How to bake using avocado
The smooth, creamy texture of avocados makes them a great ally in baking.
Words: Kristina Jensen
One of the joys of living in the Marlborough Sounds is the abundance of meat, both inside and outside the fence. Only the other day, I stopped to chat with the local farmer and he pointed to a small black shape weaving its way through a mob of sheep way up on the hillside. It turned out to be a little black pig that has taken to living with the sheep. It even lets itself be rounded up by the dogs when it’s time to muster! The animal lover in me hopes that it will continue as a curiosity for a wee while longer but I suspect that at some time in the future, if it carries on fraternising with the sheep, it will end up as sausages and bacon in the freezer.
About now my thoughts though turn to avocados. The editor asked me a while ago if I knew anything about baking with avocados and I said no. But then I remembered eating a divine muffin once upon a time that contained both bacon and avocado. Do you think I could recall who, when or where? Not on your life so Uncle Google helped me out once again with a zillion variations on the theme, and I eventually selected a recipe that looked like it might produce the desired result. However, in my usual way, I didn’t have that and substituted this and thought a pinch of that might be good and blow me down, if I didn’t get it just right.
Now because I’m a person with one foot firmly in the life’s-too-short-to-eat-crappy-food camp and the other in the oh-my-god-it’s-so-good-let’s-have-another-piece camp, I went hunting for an avocado recipe that contained a little of both. If such a thing as decadent health can exist, then I think I may have found it. You see it here in a recipe that was originally called (I think) Mexican Chocolate Cake but this version has undergone a few transformations as I tweaked it to my liking. The result is a moist, gluten-free recipe that substitutes avocado for butter.
Seventy five percent of the fat in avocados is unsaturated (that’s the good-for-you fat) and because of their high water content they tend to make treats softer, chewier and less likely to crumble. It was a bit of a trial getting my paws on a ripe avocado to make these recipes. When you live as remotely as we do it means that I buy 10 green ones once every 2-3 weeks and ripen them one at a time. My husband loves avocado even more than I do and he checks them every day (many times) and will get his teeth into one that’s ripe before I even have a chance to notice that it is ready. I had to squirrel away two for the purposes of making these recipes for the photo shoots but he still went looking for them!
2 HANDY TIPS FOR STORING AVOCADOS
1. The best way to keep a cut avocado green is to place it in an airtight container with a piece of cut-up onion. Cover it with a lid and refrigerate. It will stay fresh for several days this way.
2. Ripen avocados with help from a banana or an apple! Ripe bananas and apples release ethylene, the hormone that triggers ripening in mature fruit. Place a darkening avocado in a closed plastic bag with a banana or an apple and within 24 hours, it will be perfectly soft and ready to eat.
6 INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT AVOCADOS
• Avocados are one of the only fruits that contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (the good-for-you fat).
• Eating avocados helps boost levels of good cholesterol.
• Avocados are a fruit, and more specifically a berry, and they are climacteric, meaning they mature on the tree but ripen off it.
• Avocados contain over 20 vitamins and minerals to upgrade your diet plus a whopping amount of high quality protein for a fruit.
• Avocados are one of the most inexpensive anti-aging tools for your skin. Don’t let the rough exterior fool you – the inner smoothness and creaminess are just the thing for helping to maintain youthful skin.
• Avocados are also called alligator pears because of their bumpy skin and pear shape.
RECIPE: AVOCADO AND BACON MUFFINS
2 cups plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp chili powder or cayenne
4 spring onions, chopped
½ cup grated tasty cheese
100g cubed feta cheese
3-4 rashers of bacon, chopped finely
75g melted butter
1 large egg, beaten
1.25 cup milk
1 ripe but not too squishy n avocado, cubed and
tossed in 1 tbsp lemon juice
Fry the chopped bacon for a minute and set aside to cool in its fat. Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add spring onions, cubed avocado, cheeses and cooled bacon. Toss lightly to coat with flour mixture, then add the melted butter, beaten egg and milk and fold together gently. Spoon into a greased muffin tray and bake 12-15 minutes at 200°C.
RECIPE: GLUTEN-FREE ALMEXADO* CAKE
*stands for Almond Mexican Avocado
1 cup chocolate melts, melted slowly in a double boiler
¼ cup vegetable oil (sunflower is best)
1 cup water
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 large egg
1 large ripe avocado, mashed
4 tbsp cocoa powder (or raw cacao)
2 cups GF flour
1 cup almond meal (finely ground roasted almonds)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ – ½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup coconut sugar
½ cup brown sugar
Whisk or whiz the wet ingredients together thoroughly. Mix the dry ingredients together in another bowl, then add wet to dry and fold gently until just mixed. Spread into a flat long pan that has baking paper on the bottom and oil spread liberally around the sides. Bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes until barely cooked. It should still be a bit squishy when you touch it with your fingertips. Cool completely in tin before cutting (if you can bear to wait that long!). Keep in the fridge.