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For Valentines Everywhere

Valentine’s Day is pretty low-key this year (as it is every year), but I had to commemorate it regardless and so dragged myself out of bed when the alarm went off at 6:45 to make brekkie (that is love!!!), which consisted of:

Whole wheat blueberry muffins
Bacon (for the man – it is valentine’s day after all)
Scrambled eggs
Fruit salad

I am off for the day as it’s also my dad’s birthday; there will be lunch at Zazie and a trip to the De Young. When I come home I am planning a wee dinner, too:

Hint o’ cream spinach soup
Steak w. mushrooms + onions (tofu for me)
Potato gratin
Arugula salad

Aborio rice pudding w. coconut milk, bourbon + blackberry jam

(Hey – that’s all flourless!)

’tis a silly holiday to be sure, but I think we humans must manufacture these days in order to make life feel a bit more special every once in awhile. Honestly, I can take or leave Valentine’s Day. But even when I decide to leave it, I always want to do a little something to commemorate it, and the “little something” always involves food. Years ago, I made heart-shaped sugar cookies (using a cookie cutter made from a Coke can) dusted with red sprinkles, and home-made valentine’s cards, and pushed the bags of sweet treats through my friends’ letter slots (it was a very cold February day in DC I remember). I’ve packed up boxes of lemon tea bread to send to my New Jersey grandparents, and have sent my father, the birthday baby, wine and low-fat desserts to celebrate his day.

I especially like to mark it by making a meal or two that’s a little out-of-the-ordinary, a weekday breakfast that is lingered-over with an extra cup of coffee without looking at the clock. If nothing else, that is something to celebrate indeed.

If you have a hankering for something sweet today (just today?), I present the cake I made for my dad: a fresh ginger-laced banana cake topped with a vegan butter cream lightly infused with lemon. On a day that seems to be hallmarked as ‘day of chocolate’ I thought I’d mix it up a bit and leave out the cocoa for once. I think he’ll like it.

I wish a happy and peaceful day to you!


Dad’s Birthday Cake (Banana Cake w. Fresh Ginger and Lemony Frosting)

I will note that this cake is a riff on a banana bread recipe I like, and thus it is perhaps more bready-y than cake-y but in this case I think it works. The batter will be very thick, but it baked up beautifully into a nice 7-inch round and was quite sturdy when I cut it in half to fill it with the lemon frosting. The top rose a bit more than the edges, which may have been due more to my poor smoothing skills than anything else, but once covered with the frosting it looked quite cute nonetheless. Also: you can bake this in a regular 9-inch cake round but I think I’d leave it just as one layer. Same goes for a loaf pan.

Makes 8 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 teaspoons peeled fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg white
3 very ripe, mashed bananas
1/4 cup plain low fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup earth balance margarine, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
zest of one organic lemon + 2 teaspoons of its juice

Turn oven to 350° F, and place a rack in the center. Grease a 7-in round springform cake pan with vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugars, baking soda, salt, fresh ginger, and ground cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined. Add the nuts if using. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan to cool completely. Once cool, carefully cut in half.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Place the margarine in a large bowl and beat on high speed until creamy. Beat in the sugar and the lemon zest. Add the lemon juice, adding a few drops more if necessary. Fill and frost the top and sides of the cake with the icing.


One Comment

  1. Looks so wonderful, all of it.

    Still trying to figure out what kind of low-key approach to Valentine’s Day we want. Food sounds just right.

    Am I right to assume I could sub butter for the EB here?

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