This is an adaption of a classic recipe that is usually a bit too sweet and gooey to be suitable for lunchboxes. It is a moist, spicy cake, based on very healthy whole fruit, (pineapple and bananas) and nuts. I’ve made it a more suitable for lunch boxes by reducing the sugar and changing the frosting into a much more healthy filling. It’s a bit sweeter than my usual for the Muesli Bar Challenge, but it works out at only a teaspoon or so of sugar per slice, so it is still within the rules.
Pineapples and bananas are both in season, (but getting towards the end of it). I’ve used pecans as the nuts in the recipe, just because they’re also in season and our tree is so loaded (and close to the house) that the white cockatoos have left all the lower branches un-stripped.
Nuts in general are in season though. There are an amazing lot of public trees around with nuts just dropping unharvested, or you could look out for them at farmers markets. They are a good source of protein, Vitamin E, and minerals. Pecans are are also loaded with antioxidants.
Start with the filling because it needs to sit for a while.
Put a strainer over a bowl and line it with a piece of cheesecloth or one of those kitchen wipes like blue cheesecloth (a clean one of course.)
Put into it 4 desertspoons of low fat plain yoghurt and 4 desertspoons of low fat cottage cheese. Let it sit like that while you make the cake. It will drain out about 8 desertspoonfuls of almost clear liquid, and still leave 8 spoonfuls of thickened yoghurt-cheese. (If you have enough presence of mind to do so, it is even better left like this in the fridge overnight),
To make the cake:
Blend together 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 desertspoons of brown sugar, and 1/3 cup mild flavoured vegetable oil (I like grape-seed or canola, or substitute melted butter and leave out the salt below). Mash 2 large ripe bananas and ¾ cup chopped fresh pineapple and stir them in. Or alternatively add them to the food processor and just pulse briefly to chop them in but not blend them. Stir in half a cup of chopped pecans.
Sift together 1½ cups wholemeal plain flour, 1 scant teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon bicarb soda and ½ teaspoon salt. Add to the wet mix and stir just enough to combine.
Butter a small baking tray (or two 20cm shallow round cake pans) and line with greaseproof paper. Spread the mixture evenly in it. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back and a skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the pan. If you used a baking tray, cut the cake in half and turn it out.
Back to the Filling
Now go back to the filling. Gently squeeze the cloth to get out the last of the liquid. Blend the yoghurt-cottage cheese mix with 2 desertspoons of icing sugar and one large banana, till the mix is very smooth. You need the icing sugar not just to sweeten, but also to make the mixture thicken a bit. Stir in another half a cup of chopped pecans.
Spread the filling over one half of the cake and sandwich with the other half. Keep the cake cool and it will be even better the next day. Makes about 9 to 12 slices.