Guys. Seriously. Sometimes I really get happy with the desserts I make up.
If that sounds pretentious or immodest, please understand that I have a ton of baking fails as well, so whenever things go my way, I get super excited. This is one of those times.
This cake is autumn in a pan. When you bake it, your house will smell ah-may-zing. If we’re getting technical, this cake is the combined glory of cocoa, banana, pumpkin, and chocolate chips along with lovely fall spices like cinnamon and cloves. You’ve gotta bake it to believe it!
Before I get back to cake, I’m going to abruptly shift topic and talk about life 15 years ago.
As you all know, the 15th anniversary of 9/11 occurred two days ago. It occurred to me that I’ve never written down my own version of that day. You see, everyone has their own story about that day, just like people who were around the day that Kennedy got shot have stories. My story isn’t that interesting, but it’s mine. I wanted to write it down somewhere.
My original plan on September 11th, 2001 was to go to work and then move. As in, move into my first single-girl apartment ever in Washington, D.C. I’d never lived alone, and I had just started my job. Everything was new, exciting, and scary.
I remember being preoccupied by many mundane details. My futon was being delivered later that day, and I was hoping I’d make it back from my suburban high school to the new city pad in time to receive it. On the job end, I’d just started teaching high school seniors, and they were a tough crew. I was worried about it, and that’s kind of where I was mentally that day.
A lot of people remember a beautiful early September day. I don’t. I honestly was too much in my own head that day to notice anything. Well, until.
My problematic senior class had just ended when a student came back into the classroom and told me to turn on the TV. I had a typical teacher reaction; in other words, I said no. But he said, “You don’t understand. Please, this is important. Something is happening on the news.”
Something in his eyes made me reach for the remote and turn on the TV. The rest you know, because we experienced it together as a nation. Watching the first plane, then the second, followed by anger and confusion and worry. Hearing conflicting reports about which planes were touching down where. The Pentagon, the field in Pennsylvania. It all came together slowly and in a nightmarish, jumbled way.
Obviously, I didn’t move to D.C. that day. I moved on September 13th, where I looked around the undecorated walls of my tiny apartment and felt alone and afraid. New city, new job, new world. It was probably the most off-kilter I’d ever been at that point in my life, and the emotions alone had me in alt for quite a while.
That’s pretty much it. Not an exciting or distinctive story, but mine. I wanted to tell it sometime, and now I have.
Moving on to cake now seems absolutely uncalled for, but that’s the nature of life. It’s hard to know when to move from the serious to the frivolous, and it’s important to find balance in that spectrum.
This time of year, I find it comforting to bake with some of my favorite autumn spices: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg. Another wonderful option is pumpkin pie spice. I don’t use that in this cake, but it’s also a great choice.
This healthier cake is butter-free. It also has hefty doses of both pumpkin and banana for extra moisture, so it’s a truly delightful experience. The chocolate chips don’t hurt, either!
Every September, I remember days gone by and look forward to the future. We all have memories and stories that make up who we are. Some of them are painful, while others are full of happy nostalgia. I hope that our more difficult times can help us appreciate all the good things in life that we’re lucky enough to experience.
1 and 3/4 cups oat flour (labeled gluten-free)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium ripe bananas)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350. Spray an 8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except the sugars and chocolate chips until well incorporated. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the eggs and sugars and mix well. Add the pumpkin and oil and stir again. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat until a smooth batter has formed. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake is done, as tested by a toothpick. Cool and then cut into squares.