In a professional kitchen, there are often lots of leftovers. Some of those bits find their way into soups and stews. Some become daily specials. In the pastry corner of a pro operation, piles of fruit and vegetables are often tossed our way, with the hope that something sale-able can be wrought from the abundance. Bananas are almost always a part of this leftover pile. Full of sugar and quick to over-ripen, bananas are a versatile and reliable fruit in the bakeshop. Other stars in the stable of useful produce are sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, beets, apples, and almost any kind of winter squash, such as butternut or acorn. Using fruit and vegetable purees is not only a way to use surplus produce, but its also a neat trick for getting extra nutrition, flavor and moisture into bakery treats.
As a "made without gluten" bakeshop, we take traditional recipes and convert them for use with gluten free flours. Gluten is simply the protein found in wheat. Ground, and combined with liquid, gluten forms long "strands" that provides the structure for any baked good. Without gluten, breads, cakes and cookies are flat, and nearly inedible. Fortunately for those with an allergy to gluten, there are now effective recipes and flours available which produce wonderful facsimiles to conventional goodies. Here are a couple of my favorites!
One note about flour: Bob's Red Mill is a reliable source of all of the gluten free flours listed here. You can substitute Cup 4 Cup, a gluten free mix of flours available on Amazon.com or your local health food store, or traditional all-purpose flour. King Arthur also carries a superior gluten free flour mix. The vegan recipe shown here is only vegan using the flours in this recipe, but is certainly just as delicious using Cup 4 Cup (which contains dried milk and isn't acceptable to vegans) or all-purpose flour.
Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
2 3/4 cup banana puree
1 cup olive oil
2 cups white sugar
2 1/2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 TBSP baking soda
1 TBSP baking powder
2 teaspoons guar gum (also available from Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups Enjoy Life vegan chocolate chips, or comparable brand (or standard chips if desired)
Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside. Combine banana puree, oil, and sugar and blend well. Add the dry ingredients and chips and mix well. Using a portion or ice cream scoop, fill liners and bake until lightly golden, or a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn out of pans to cool. Top with desired frosting. To adhere to vegan guidelines, use vegetable shortening, or tofutti soy products for a "cream cheese" frosting result. (Be sure to use a shorting that's free of trans fat.) To make traditional cupcakes, substitute 4.5 cups of all-purpose flour and add 4 large eggs to the wet ingredients.
Sweet potato cupcakes
4 cups Cup 4 Cup or conventional all-purpose flour
1 1/2 TBSP baking powder
1 1/2 TBSP ginger
1 1/2 TBSP cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 cups pureed sweet potato (or fruit/vegetable puree of your choice)8 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 TBSP vanilla
6 cups grated carrot, parsnip, turnip or rutabaga (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers, or prepare a cake pan of your choice. Combine the first 7 ingredients and whisk together. Mix the wet ingredients until well combined. Add the wet and dry mixtures and stir, but don't over mix. Fill pans and bake until the batter is firm to the touch and bounces back. This recipe will puff up a fair amount, and then deflate. Don't be alarmed, just eat it- topped with brown butter cream cheese frosting, found here: http://leighshearin.weebly.com/blogs/squashed-cupcakes