Hungry Haley

it's more than food

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Vegan Banana Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Cake, DessertHaley Hansen4 Comments

Pull up a chair, cut yourself a slice of cake, and get comfy - we’re taking a little trip down Memory Lane back to 2014, when HH first began.

My passion for food and fitness was actually masking an eating disorder at the time, but that mask peels off later on in the story. Before it did - and before I launched the blog - my cooking and baking was rigid, and if I wasn’t in full control of the food I was making, I was extremely nervous. I played it off for the most part, but underneath the “this is so delicious!” I was really counting the macros in my head and planning tomorrow’s workout based on that count.

Anyway. I had a million (which might not be an exaggeration) photos of food on my phone and everyone who knew me knew that. Instagram was mainly just for personal photos at the time, so I wasn’t sharing these publicly. Looking back, I still kind of wondering why exactly I had so many photos. I guess it’s all just part of the story, because if I hadn’t had all those photos and if my friends and family hadn’t noticed them, they might not have encouraged me to do something with them.

“You should start a blog!” A blog? Me? No. I only read other blogs. I don’t write my own. Plus, what would I even talk about?

I let the idea roll around in my head for a little while, as I followed the work of Pancake Princess, Cookie and Kate, and of course, Bon Appetit, and a few other food-writing platforms. Soon enough, I was thinking about names for my blog. One night at dinner, with my parents and boyfriend at the time, he came up with Hungry Haley and I think I actually laughed out loud. But, with the smile on everyone’s faces, I knew it had a ring to it.

Vegan Banana Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

OKAY okay okay! Yeah, I’m starting a blog. For the next month, I created and photographed recipes, and spent hours each day learning about Squarespace and blog set-up details. The excitement and passion I felt each time I’d work on it told me I made a darn good decision. Still, I didn’t ever see this as becoming anything more than just my blog. Who knows, maybe in a couple years I’d even forget about it. I had no idea what it’s future held.

My boyfriend at the time - my first love at just 17 years old - broke up with me just a week before I was set to launch the blog, and with that, my first couple of lifestyle posts were born. The ease with which my thoughts and feelings rolled out of my mind and through my fingertips onto the keyboard amazed me and even brought me to tears a couple of times. Finally, I had found something other than food and exercise that made me genuinely happy! Something that gave me confidence and purpose.

I kept writing, and I wrote about big things like leaving for college for the first time and small things like when Mom took me to Williams Sonoma for some girl-time after the break-up.

August 25th, 2014 at 8 PM. My parents and I sat in the office as Dad clicked here and there, and within a couple of minutes, looked to me and asked, “You ready?”. Tears filled my eyes as I smiled and nodded, “Yes!” And Hungry Haley officially had her own space on the internet. There I was! I told my friends and family about the launch and felt an overwhelming amount of love and support. I cried some more, wrote some more, and let it sink in that this could actually become something really significant in my life. But, who knows.

And now, here we are. :)

Vegan Banana Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

RECIPE
Makes 1 6” cake, about 8 slices

For the cake:
3 extra ripe bananas
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup neutral oil (I recommend avocado oil or olive oil)
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp. flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp. filtered water, combined and left to thicken for 5 minutes
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. sea salt
dark chocolate chips, for garnish

For the ganache:
2 large ripe avocados
6 tbsp. natural creamy almond butter
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease four 6-inch cake pans with oil. Set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas, coconut sugar, and neutral oil. Use a stand-mixer or hand-mixer to beat on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the almond milk, flax egg, and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.

  3. Combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and sea salt in a medium bowl and stir until incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing after each addition. Make sure no clumps of flour remain and then stop mixing. It’s important to not over-mix the batter here, so stop when everything is just combined.

  4. Divide the batter amongst the four cake pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick poked through the center comes out clean. Leave these to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pans. Then, carefully remove the cakes and lay them on a cooling rack until completely cool.

  5. In the meantime, prepare the frosting. Using a stand-mixer or hand-mixer, mash the avocados with the almond butter until smooth. In small matches, add the cacao powder and mix slowly to avoid making a cacao-powder mess. Add the coconut sugar and almond milk and continue mixing until smooth, about 7-8 minutes.

  6. When the cakes have cooled, place one layer on a cake dish and cover with a thin layer of ganache, about 1/2“ thick. Repeat this process with the remaining layers of cake until the cake is covered in ganache. Use a spoon to create swirls on the top layer, and a knife to smooth out the sides of the cake for a sleek finish. Place dark chocolate chips around the bottom of the cake.

  7. Slice and serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

Vegan Banana Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache