Tropical Caramel Sticky Pudding
(Low salicylates; no gluten, dairy, cane sugar, citrus or soy)
Good food should please us first by its aesthetics. It should enchant by appearance, aroma and expectation. This stimulates the first phase of digestion termed cephalic – or having to do with the brain. Thinking about and seeing food can call forth supportive enzymes and other digestive juices, hormones and neurotransmitters released to prime us for pleasure, fuel and performance. It is one reason why mindless grabbing and grazing feels less satisfying. Then we might overeat to try and find the fulfilment that the process lacked.
Although baked as a big deep cake, this dessert emerges like a sticky-pudding. It was particularly designed for the growing number of people who have to minimise salicylates. These are naturally present in many plant foods, especially most fruit (but less so tropical fruit) and particularly when concentrated and dried. Salicylates act as natural herbicides to ward off attack by pests. Synthetic pesticides mimic this action. Other artificial substances are similar in structure to salicylates, including many common medications (particularly pain killers) and artificial additives: sweeteners, flavourings, colourings and flavour enhancers such as MSG (see article under website TIPS). Cane Sugar (TIPS) is also a botanical cousin. The synthetic salicylates have encouraged some people to develop less tolerance to the natural forms (contact this office for an allergy test). Typical reactions include sinus, Skin and Mood problems; arthritis and other Aches and Pains (TIPS).
Enjoy this dessert for health and pleasure.
425 gram (15 oz) tin crushed pineapple in pineapple juice
2 large free-range eggs
2 large or 3 small ripe bananas
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup coconut sugar* or palm sugar* (or brown sugar if tolerant)
60ml (¼ cup) honey
60ml (¼ cup) mild cold-pressed oil*
1 tsp pure vanilla extract*
1¼ cups rice flour*
3 tsp mixed spice
1½ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
Place a baking tray in the oven to go beneath the pudding (the topping might ooze and spill). In a food processor place pineapple and its juice, eggs, bananas, walnuts, sugar, honey, oil and vanilla. Puree until fairly smooth (nuts should be small chunks, not ground). Add flour, spice, baking soda and baking powder. Pulse briefly until mixed.
Pour into an oiled, deep-sided 23-25 cm (9”-10”) baking dish*. Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 45 minutes until well risen and lightly baked. Remove from oven quickly and gently so as not to collapse it. Cover with Topping, spreading as lightly and evenly as possible. Bake a further 25-30 minutes until top has caramelised into medium golden brown. When pierced with a skewer the pudding should be moist but not leave clumps of batter. Upon sitting the pudding will sink down a little. Serve at room temperature – the flavours are even better as it matures over days.
Caramel Coconut Topping:
75 ml (6 Tbsp) Milk Option*
60 ml (¼ cup) honey
3 Tbsp mild cold-pressed oil*
1 tsp pure vanilla extract*
1 cup coconut (long thread looks more dramatic)
While pudding bakes, in a small bowl combine the Milk Option, honey, oil and vanilla. Stir in coconut.
Shopping and PreparationTips:*
• Cake pan: for all cakes use a ceramic bakeware dish (such as Haven; inexpensive; available from Farmers and cookware shops). Its thick sides help prevent over-browning, and drying out during storage. No need to turn the cake out. Allow to cool in the dish on a rack. Store and serve from the attractive container. Helps avoid baking in aluminium – or worse – plastic. Easy to clean too.
• Coconut sugar: granulated sugar that looks similar to raw sugar with a mild caramel taste. Use in hot drinks or baking like brown sugar. Made similarly to palm sugar but from the syrup of coconut palms rather than Palmyra trees. Low 35 GI; good source of alkaline minerals, iron, zinc, some B vitamins. Available from health stores.
• Milk Options: organic cow, goat, soy, oat, almond or hazelnut milk is available in most supermarkets. Or use rice milk – to each cup 1 Tbsp coconut cream can be added for more body. Use options in the same quantity as regular milk called for in recipes. Check packet milks for added sugar; ensure soy milk is made from the whole bean (less processed). Pure Harvest is a good brand with many varieties; whole, organic, no added sugar.
• Oil: mild, cold pressed oil suitable for baking and cooking is Ceres brand Organic Roasting and Frying Oil (from health stores). It is also second to extra virgin olive oil for affordability. For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see my article on the TIPS page: The Fats of Life.
• Palm sugar: comes from the syrup of palm trees. It is moist and caramel in colour and taste. Packed in boxes of small brown rounds or squares, it is traditionally used in Thai cooking. It is available from most supermarkets next to other sugars (including organic cane sugars). Chop, grate or melt.
• Rice flour: for baking use finely ground (can be called ‘zentrofan’) whole rice. Results will not be the same with coarse, gritty flour; or Asian rice flour (from starch only; looks sticky like cornflour). Use brown rice flour (finely milled; not gritty). Or mix ½ brown rice flour (for increased nutrients); ½ white rice flour (for increased lightness) as preferred.
• Vanilla: use real vanilla, often termed extract (as opposed to faux essence, often labelled ‘vanillin’) and one without artificial additives. Good brands available locally and overseas are: Heilala Vanilla and Equagold. These are in most supermarkets and health stores.