Blueberry & Cardamom Banana Cake (vegan & gluten-free recipe)

This is a Scandinavian-influenced banana bread that thinks it's a cake, with optional naturally-coloured and flavoured blueberry glaze. Gluten-free, vegan and lower in sugar, my blueberry and cardamom banana cake is a delightfully soft and squidgy breakfast cake or healthy snack.This is a Scandinavian-influenced banana bread that thinks it’s a cake, with optional naturally-coloured and flavoured blueberry glaze. Gluten-free, vegan and lower in sugar, my blueberry and cardamom banana cake is a delightfully soft and squidgy breakfast cake or healthy snack.

For years I have had a not-so-secret crush on cardamom.  Although I enjoy savouring the superlative pearl sugar-topped cardamom buns served at Scandinavian-style bakeries, I usually settle for a low-effort swirl of ground cardamom in my morning porridge. Or, if I am being a bit fancy, my Immune-Boosting Porridge – especially if coughs and sneezes are doing the rounds.

It’s not only me who rates this underused (at least in the UK and US) spice. In countries as polar opposite as Sweden and India, cardamom is a favoured natural flavour. For those of you who haven’t tasted or smelled cardamom, it can best be described as having a distinct sweet, warm, perfumed fragrance that once sniffed is never forgotten.

Cardamom’s uses are surprisingly varied:  flavouring Arabic style coffee (pop a whole pod into coffee grounds before brewing), in Scandinavian breads and cakes and as a staple ingredient in traditional curries. I am so taken with this wrinkly pod that I feature it as the star of a pepper blend: 4 tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tbsp coriander seeds and the seeds from 10 green cardamom pods – and store it in a refillable pepper grinder. I have perhaps taken my cardamom-love a bit far: one of my favourite perfumes is Voyages d’Hermes which, when it’s been on the skin awhile, takes on cardamom and green tea notes. Delish!

This is a Scandinavian-influenced banana bread that thinks it's a cake, with optional naturally-coloured and flavoured blueberry glaze. Gluten-free, vegan and lower in sugar, my blueberry and cardamom banana cake is a delightfully soft and squidgy breakfast cake or healthy snack.Medicinally, practitioners of Chinese medicine prescribe cardamom for a plethora of digestive complaints, some of which are common while on chemotherapy – constipation, flatulence and general stomach cramping. In Ayurvedic medicine it is seen as an important spice for balancing the three doshas (especially kappa), as well as being a warming digestive and lung stimulant. Recent animal studies have demonstrated cardamom’s capacity to reduce inflammation, as well as protect against the growth of colon cancer cells.

I already get a daily dose of both turmeric and cardamom in my Spiced Golden Turmeric Milk, but I also use it in less medicinal ways. I am bit fond of adding just a dash of cardamom in quite a few of my baked goods. It is not quite an obsession, but during the colder months it is a way of warming the tummy without being spicy; and as someone prone to cold extremities I need all of the help I can get. But even if you don’t have to wear socks in July, cardamom gives a lift to the most ordinary of recipes.

Banana bread falls into the category of ordinary recipes, I think. Deeply blackened bananas destined for the compost heap are, by the clever cook, re-purposed into a breakfast bread or healthy snack without much effort or skill (yay!).

I rarely make plain banana bread, preferring to add chocolate and rosemary oftentimes, peanut butter and jam, at others, but I also “go Scandi” too with berries, caraway and fennel pollen. Today’s banana bread is in the Scandi vein, and eats more as a cake, staying delightfully soft and squidgy.

It has a health streak too, swapping wheat flour for ground up oats and coconut flour, and calling for stevia in place of some of the sweet. I have also on this occasion made a concession to Mother’s Day (which is this Sunday, the 6th, here in the UK) by tarting it up a bit with a naturally coloured and flavoured blueberry powder glaze. If you wish to use the glaze, dollop and spread it on just before serving as it is not a traditional, sugary glaze that will set just so. Ditto the optional sugar pearls (so Scandi, I know!). Mine were left awhile before taking these pictures so they had – prettily I think – absorbed some of the glaze. I quite like the purple sugar beads topped with a few more of the pure white as you see here.

Although the cake is done here in a bundt tin do use a loaf tin as per a banana bread, baking longer as described below.

My mother is no longer alive, so Mother’s Day is always a bit of a wistful day for me. But I would like to think that she would enjoy this cake as much as we do.

Are you doing anything special on Mother’s Day? Being treated, or doing the treating? Making any luridly-glazed cakes?? Do tell. 

This is a Scandinavian-influenced banana bread that thinks it's a cake, with optional naturally-coloured and flavoured blueberry glaze. Gluten-free, vegan and lower in sugar, my blueberry and cardamom banana cake is a delightfully soft and squidgy breakfast cake or healthy snack.

Blueberry-Cardamom Banana Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This is a Scandinavian-influenced banana bread that thinks it’s a cake, with optional naturally-coloured and flavoured blueberry glaze. Gluten-free, vegan and lower in sugar, my blueberry and cardamom banana cake is a delightfully soft and squidgy breakfast cake or healthy snack.

If you wish to use all oat flour (200g) instead of oat and coconut flour, reduce the almond milk to 100ml. xx

The Cake

75ml coconut oil, melted + a little extra for the tin

175g walnuts

100g porridge oats

3 large very ripe bananas, mashed as for a puree

100g coconut flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground (green) cardamom

50g granular stevia OR 100g unrefined sugar

75ml maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

250ml almond or other milk

125g blueberries

The Glaze*

2 tbsp coconut oil

4 tbsp real blueberry/bilberry powder (available online and in good health food stores; useful for smoothies!)

2 tsp granular stevia

3 tbsp icing sugar

Enough water or almond milk to make a spreadable or “dropping” glaze (if you wish it to tumble down the sides a bit), as you prefer

Topping: pearled sugar, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ 350. Brush a bundt or 900g (2 lb) loaf tin with a little coconut oil (or use a spray oil).

2. As the oven is heating lay the walnuts on a tray and pop them in for eight minutes, then pulse in a food processor or chop finely. Set aside.

3. Add the oats to the food processor and blitz to a rough and tumble flour consistency. Add the oat flour to a large mixing bowl, along with the remaining cake ingredients – bar the berries. Turn very well with a large spoon or spatula. It is doughy batter owing to the high absorbency of the coconut flour, but it should feel light. Fold in the blueberries.

4. Dollop the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes (bundt) or 1 hour and 10 minutes (loaf tin). Test for doneness with a skewer – if it comes out clean the cake is done. Check the cake at 40 minutes/1 hour. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for at least half an hour before turning out on the rack or onto a plate. When the cake is cool, make the optional glaze.This is a Scandinavian-influenced banana bread that thinks it's a cake, with optional naturally-coloured and flavoured blueberry glaze. Gluten-free, vegan and lower in sugar, my blueberry and cardamom banana cake is a delightfully soft and squidgy breakfast cake or healthy snack.

5. Make the glaze by heating the coconut oil very gently, removing from the heat then adding the other ingredients. Let this cool before spreading onto the cooled cake. You may need to play with the glaze to get it to the right consistency and sweetness for you. Only glaze and top with the pearled sugar just before serving.

* If you want to make a traditional icing but adding in fruit powder, see this one from Just Tomatoes.

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