Sunday, 22 June 2014

Magic Bean Cake

So, the mysterious and legendary 'Magic Bean Cake' has landed...

Dark and decadent, rich, moist and deeply chocolate-y, if you love chocolate, you will love this. It's a real keeper, and you'll have fun getting people trying to guess what the 'secret ingredient is'! (They won't).

Chocolate magic bean cake

This cake is a bit of a sensation - there are versions everywhere now. I originally started off with a version from the Australian Thermomix recipe community (there's even more than one there!) and wanted to convert it and share my version with my friends who don't have a Thermomix or similar (this method also includes the Thermomix instructions in italics - ignore anything in italics if you're not using a Thermomix).

I find that because the cake is so rich and moist, you don't need much - between four of us, we only managed to demolish a quarter, having a couple of modest slices each. It's gorgeous served with raspberries, blackberries or strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream, creme fraiche or thick and creamy yoghurt (we had it with home-made yoghurt made with creamy milk from Jersey cows and little wild strawberries picked from the back garden - yum!), and would be to-die-for with some dark cherries, especially if just simmered down a little with some of their juice and a little sugar... the possibilities are endless (see tips for more ideas and flavours for cooking the cake)!

I'd say this serves 16, if you cook in a ring tin and cut into slices about 1.5 to 2cm (as in photo), and have a couple or so per serving. 160 calories for a 16th of the cake serving on this basis. Or if you just want a little treat, have the one small slice instead of two, for 80 calories! [Calories in square brackets below]

  • 240g cooked kidney or adzuki beans (or pretty much any cooked beans/chickpeas of your choice - chickpeas are a little stronger though), rinsed and drained if from a can (you will need a 400g can) [252]
  • 120g softened butter (or use extra virgin coconut oil, the solid white variety if you want to make it dairy free, in a direct swap - it works very well) [884]
  • 170g golden caster sugar (or your preferred sweetener, e.g. rapadura, coconut sugar etc. rapadura has quite a strong flavour, so you might want to use less, whereas coconut sugar is not so sweet) [680]
  • 5 eggs (UK medium, 58g each) [438]
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules (you don't have to add coffee, it just enhances the flavour of the cocoa - it doesn't make the cake taste of coffee) [1]
  • 1 tablespoon good vanilla extract [43]
  • 75g unsweetened cocoa powder (I highly recommend Green & Black's organic) [259]
  • 1 teaspoon (gluten free) baking powder [3]
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Icing sugar to dust
Other optional ingredients - see Tips below

You will need
Something to whizz the beans up in, e.g. a food processor or blender.

Pre-heat oven to gas mark 4 / 160C fan oven, and use a teaspoon of the butter to grease a suitable cake tin (or put paper cases into a muffin tin). I use a 9inch/22.5cm springform tin identical to this one, which has a choice of two bases - ring or flat. This cake is best cooked in a ring tin, to avoid the centre being undercooked / the edges drying out or burning.

Cream the butter and sugar together - easiest done with a hand mixer, or in an electric mixer or food processor - until pale and fluffy (Thermomix: Optionally grind the sugar for 20 seconds / Speed 10 first. Blitz butter and sugar, Speed 5 / 30 seconds, then scrape down). Lightly beat the eggs, add the vanilla extract, water and coffee, then gradually pour into the butter / sugar mixture whilst beating. Don't worry if the mixture begins to look slightly curdled. (TM: Add the eggs, vanilla extract, water and coffee and blitz Speed 4 / 15 seconds, then scrape down).

Next, you need to add the beans. If you're not using a food processor or similar to mix your ingredients, then you need to use it to blitz up your beans in one as fine as possible, then add to the mixture and combine thoroughly. If you *are* using a food processor, then add your (drained) beans into the mix, and blitz it all together until as smooth as possible. (TM: Add beans, Speed 7 / 20 seconds, then scrape down. Blitz again 30 seconds / Speed 9 for a nice fine mixture).

Sift in the cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, and add the salt and mix together until well combined, making sure any mixture from the sides is scraped in. (TM: Add cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, Speed 4 / 25 seconds, scrape down and then Speed 5 and a half / 15 seconds).

Pour batter into greased ring tin pan or cake tin. Bake in the centre of the oven at gas mark 4 / 160C fan oven for 35 to 45 minutes (around 20 minutes, if making cupcakes - you can get 24 small / fairy cake sized muffins out of the mixture - I up the sugar to 200g and skip the coffee, and only use 1/2 tsp vanilla essence for childrens fairy cakes.) or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (I find it's still wobbly at 30 minutes, but fully cooked by 42 minutes - don't over-cook as you want a nice moist cake). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, before taking out of the tin, and allow to cool fully if you're going to ice/frost the cake/cupcakes. Enjoy, and be amazed at just how good a chocolate cake made out of beans tastes!

To make this into a mocha cake, increase the amount of instant coffee to taste, and ice with coffee buttercream, or drizzle over a plain light coffee icing.

To ice with my decadent chocolate buttercream, click here for the recipe.

Click here if you'd like to try my Coconut and Lemon magic bean cake (with cannellini beans).

Stir through 100g of your favourite chopped nuts (e.g. pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts) at the end, before cooking.

Soak 75g of raisins in rum (or black tea) or 75g of dried cherries in kirsch or cherry brandy overnight and stir through the mix just before baking.

For a more decadent chocolate cake, make up a chocolate ganache (heat a 284ml carton of double cream until almost boiling, then pour over 200g dark chocolate, broken up, and stir until melted and allow to cool until desired consistency, before spreading onto cooled cake - see here for the three different ways you can then use this, from runny and glossy, to whipped and fluffy. Excess ganache can be turned into chocolate truffles).

Add the zest of one orange, plus 1 tsp oil-based orange extract or 1 tbsp orange blossom water instead of 1 tbsp vanilla extract for a chocolate orange cake.

Divide the batter between small paper cake cases, to make into cupcakes, and reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes, or until just cooked through.


  1. Sounds devine am definitely going to try this.

  2. Omg! This is SO good!
    Rich flavour and light spongy texture. Unbelievable that it's gluten free!
    I made 20 mini muffins, they took 20 minutes & I had all the ingredients in the house (had to sub bicarbonate for the baking powder, as mine wasn't gf)
    Definitely a keeper!

  3. I so fancy trying this - do you think it would work in a bundt tin? Chui

    1. I don't see why not, if you grease it well? :)

  4. I have made this cake countless times and I've never been disappointed! I bake up a batch of muffins and once they've cooled I freeze them. I put them frozen in my kids' lunchboxes so when its defrosted it fresh to go! They love them! Thanks so much

  5. That's brilliant - my kids get it in their lunchboxes for a treat too!


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