Friday, August 10, 2012

Beans, the Luscious Legume

Looking for a sweet treat?? Look no further than...a can of beans? Yea, that's right. The humble cupboard staple is back in a big way. From chilis to dips and everything in-between, beans are an awesome source of protein, are inexpensive and super versatile. Need proof? Check out this yummy recipe from my in-house pastry chef, Ellen (oh, and she also happens to be my sister!) When she e-mailed me this recipe for a white bean cake, I'll admit, I was less than thrilled to try it. She's a vegetarian. I had my doubts. But let me tell you, it's amazing with a capital A!! I know, I roll my eyes too when I see recipes suggesting apple sauce or yogurt to cut calories in a dessert. Just give me the good stuff! But she's my sister, so I had to try it and boy, am I happy I did.
This cake is light, fluffy and oh-so-sweet. I promise, if I didn't tell you the beans were there, you'd never know. By blending them into a paste, they incorporate beautifully into the batter and allow for a soft, spongy texture. The beans do cut the calories by replacing extra butter or oil you would need to achieve the melt-in-your-mouth quality of this cake. I added poppyseeds cause that's how I roll, but you can play with this as it's a basic batter. Cinnamon, nuts, or chocolate chips would make great additions. It makes a generous bundt so don't make it unless you:
 a) are planning to have company over or
 b) are like me and have no shame finishing a cake on your own
Try it and let me know what you think!

(Adapted from Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2012)

 3 cups all-purpose flour
 1 tablespoon baking powder
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini (white) beans, rinsed and drained (you can also use garbanzo beans)
 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
 2 cups granulated sugar
 2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
 1 cup buttermilk (I used milk, didn't have buttermilk...was too lazy to go back out!)
 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract (optional)
 1 lemon zested
***Additional add-ins of your choice...poppyseeds, for example!
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt pan and set aside.
 In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
 Add beans to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Whip until beans are almost to a smooth puree. It’s ok if there are some beans that are not completely pureed. They’ll be well incorporated once they are beaten with the butter and sugar. (I mashed with a fork!)
 In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter, sugar, lemon zest, and bean puree. Beat on medium until butter and beans are well incorporated, about 3-5 minutes. It might get watery at this point, but keep going. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla and lemon (if using).
 Add the dry ingredients in two stages. First half, then all of the buttermilk, then the last half of the dry. Make sure it's all mixed in, using a rubber spatula if neccesary.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake come out clean. This cake gets really dry if overbaked, so if in doubt, take it out.
 Remove the cake from the oven. Allow to rest in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
 Top with an easy lemon powdered sugar glaze and you're set! (or just powdered sugar like I did!)

                                                                 Perfect with coffee!!

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