AIM: To see if avocado is nature’s butter (2). If it is, can you bake a cake with avocado instead of butter?

APPARATUS: Cake tin with removable base, various bowls, electric whisk, blender, sieve, dessert spoon, sharp knife; 4 eggs, 12 oz self-raising flour, 3/4 cup milk, 3 small avocados, a sprinkling of sugar.

How to bake a very basic cake (using civilisation’s butter ie butter itself):
i. Beat 8 oz of sugar into 8 oz of butter, until smooth and fluffy
ii. Add four eggs
iii. Gradually fold in 12 oz of self-raising flour and 3/4 cup of milk
iv. Pour into a cake tin and place in an oven for about an hour.

Straight away an important issue arises: is the goal eatability (is the result CAKEY AND NICE?) or edibility (is the result merely NOT HORRIBLE)? Three decisions had to be made: how much avocado flesh to substitute for the 8 oz of butter; whether to make initial allowance for the distractingly unscientific potential yukness factor of 16 oz of avocado and castor sugar in the mix; and how long to bake. On the assumption that further tests will establish ideal amounts and proportions for DELICIOUS NICE CAKEYNESS, we decided to use our judgment to aim for a minimal eatability.

Hence: in a weight-for-weight substitution, we traded 8 oz of butter for 8 oz of avocado (= flesh of about two and half small avocados). And – since sugarfree cake is no contradiction in terms – we decided on a minimal chefly sprinkle of sugar only (sinkah argued for NONE, brahnie casting the expert’s vote for the sprinkle after a late taste test).

The question of length in the oven was again answered in an ad hoc fashion – by checking by eye and nose and finger-pokage every five minutes after half an hour. In the event, it was in for about 40 mins, at which time we thought it seemed ready enough to take out, allow to cool, divide up and sample.

First discovery: butter beats to softness supremely easily. But avocado doesn’t MELT, and if the avocado is even slightly unripe, squeezage by hand, however diligent, can leave lumpy bits. Nor are whisks and blenders much help. We resorted – once we had added the beaten eggs – to pouring the mix through a sieve and pushing what wouldn’t flow through with the back of a dessert spoon. The mixing of the cake dough then proceeded uneventfully, except that we started to get excited in its late stages because it felt and looked more and more like “proper” cakemix (this was in fact the point brahnie suggested that we add a little sugar after all).

[secret sidenote: in my hand-written notes, 3/4 cup of milk had become 3-4 cups of milk – but luckily brahnie wz advising at this point on consistency, and proportion disaster wz averted] [i only realised this when looking back at the book just now]

The cake – for cake it clearly was, by sight and smell – was removed when it became obvious that it had risen well, at least in the centre, and was browning nicely. It had formed a crust – the upthrusting cakemix below had then cracked this crust, hardening itself as it squeezed through, like fresh magma. After beling allowed to cool for a while in Tim’s bedroom, it was served out to GENERAL DELIGHT TOLERANT ACCEPTANCE: it had a cornbreadish texture and flavour, went well with other things, and by the end of the evening was almost completely finished (one small remaining slice-worth was thrown away uneaten).


CONCLUSION: Avocado is indeed nature’s butter. This particular mix was a wee bit doughy and uncooked in the middle still, unsurprisingly wasn’t especially flavoursome – it didn’t TASTE of avocado at all – and rose in a problematic way, given its rather leathery crustiness (not at all at edges, maybe too much in centre). As noted above, experiments with proportions (more avocado for moistness?; more baking powder for lightness?) and further tasteable ingredients (sweet OR SAVOURY) would certainly produce excellent cakey or indeed bready results. Also Tim had no salt.