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Beans Replace Shortening in Yellow Cake? Really?


I've been experimenting with a recipe that replaces shortening in brownies with an equivalent amount of black beans. I first noticed the recipe on Heidi Swanson's wonderful Web site 101 Cookbooks. Heidi wished she had created the recipe but instead credited Ania Catalano's new cookbook, Baking with Agave Nectar, as the source.

Applesauce or vanilla yogurt had been my go-to replacements in the past. But the idea of using black beans in place of shortening intrigued me, and I couldn't wait to see what the outcome would be.

I was delighted (and surprised) when the resulting brownies tasted better, creamier and richer than ones I had previously made with shortening, yogurt or applesauce. Not content to stop there, I wondered if I could replace the shortening in a yellow cake with puréed white beans.

After thoroughly washing the beans to remove salt and any flavoring, I puréed the white beans with a tablespoon of vanilla and a half-cup of white wine. The texture of the cake was satisfactory but despite washing the white beans, I thought the cake tasted slightly salty.

My next idea was to replace the shortening with puréed garbanzo beans. Voila! The white garbanzo beans worked as well in my yellow cake recipe as the black beans did in the brownie. The cake was moist, light and delicious with no hint of salt.

But the experiment didn't end there. I made one more yellow cake. This time I replaced half the shortening with applesauce and the other half with puréed garbanzo beans. Again, I added extra vanilla and white wine. I liked this version the best. It was moist, light and, because of the applesauce, even more flavorful.

Multiple test cakes, however, created a problem. My husband, an original member of the clean plate club, was overwhelmed when he walked into the kitchen and saw the extent of my research. He felt obligated to sample each one, maybe more than once. To take the pressure off this conscientious eater, I froze whole sections. Besides removing the temptation for either one of us to overindulge, I'll test whether the cake retains its texture and flavor after being frozen.

If you decide to have your own cooking adventure, please  share your results.

Photo Credit: cookbookman17 on Flickr

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