October 28th: Making Chigumu – Gluten-free, Vegan African Banana Cake

A post for all my cooking friends!

I have learned how to make a traditional African banana cake and thought I would share my experience and the recipe 🙂

Traditionally this lightly sweetened cake is made on a charcoal stove. Once the dough was formed, it would be wrapped in banana leaves and surrounded by charcoal (top and bottom) to ensure it cooked through. While some Malawians still prefer to make it on a charcoal grill others now use electric ovens.

I really wanted to learn how to make this cake for two reasons. The first, I always love learning how to cook traditional food. The second, this cake is both gluten-free and vegan. Meaning it could be a good option to serve to friends and family on restrictive diets.

The ladies from my office gave me a crash course on how to make the cake with the promise they would be critical taste testers. While I found the baking of the cake went well, I did get a lot of critiques! The main ones being to reduce the amount of baking soda, adding warm instead of room temperature water, and adding the baking soda last.


Here is the updated recipe, if you are interested yourself to give it a try.

Chigumu (African Banana Cake)

2 cups of maize flour (can be purchased at Bulk Barn)

3-5 medium sized bananas (very ripe not frozen)

1-2 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 warm water

1/2 tsp baking soda

Grease a 9×9 pan. Mash bananas then add flour, sugar, salt and water and mix well. Lastly add the baking soda. Cook at 350 for ~15-20 min.


6 responses to “October 28th: Making Chigumu – Gluten-free, Vegan African Banana Cake

  1. Wow That seems to be a simple recipe with lots of bananas water and maize flour, but procedures area must to learn for there… Good luck on mastering it for us to taste it later on!


  2. Wow their critiques are so detailed – the cake looks pretty good to me! I’m going to have to try making it!


    • Yes, I was really impressed how everyone could taste there was too much baking soda. I would have to eat a big clump of it to taste it! It is still a bit gritty because of the maize flour, but for gluten-free I find it to be quite good 🙂


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