Banana Bread

The BBC Good Food magazine has had a ‘healthy makeover’ section for a while now. I have always overlooked it and ignored because, let’s be frank, life without full fat cream cheese, butter and double cream really has no meaning. However, having ended up with some really ripe bananas (the black skin type ones, to be precise), I decided to give this recipe a go. After all, you can’t always turn down things in life.

I was lucky enough to find some authentic Greek yogurt in my local supermarket. The brand is FAGE and it’s the hardest and creamiest I have seen so far. It also tastes really good and it’s marketed (with a caption in Italian, weirdly enough) to be the real thing. Good enough for me. I also took a turn for the worse (or the fat, if you prefer) by substituting the walnuts in the original recipe with some chocolate chips. The mixture here is dense enough to hold them in place, so they won’t sink to the bottom but spread evenly throughout the cake. The pictures below I’m afraid don’t do the cake enough justice, but it really is delicious and the chocolate chips add just that extra flavour.

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Ingredients

  • 2 very ripe bananas, preferably with black skins
  • 1/2 lemon, zest only
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g plain flour
  • 50g plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 25g butter, diced
  • 85g light brown sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100g full-fat natural yogurt
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed (or flavourless vegetable) olive oil

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin (about 1kg) with baking parchment.
  2. Peel the bananas, break them in pieces and mash them with a fork in a small bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and the vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, mix both the flours with the raising agents and ground almonds. Add the sugar, then tumble in the butter and rub it in with the tip of your fingers.
  4. In a jug, mix the yogurt with the eggs and the rapeseed oil, then add it to the rest of the mixture. Don’t worry if it looks too dry as the mixture is a bit on the stiff side, but keep on mixing (but don’t overmix!). Last addition, fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the mixture in the loaf tin and level it out. Bake for 45 minutes, but check with a skewer whether the cake is done.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely.

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Banana Boston Cream Cake

Ever heard of the Hummingbird Bakery? Well, if you haven’t, then you should. I have been making their Guinness Cake for ages and it’s always a raving success. They have so many amazing and creative ideas for desserts and they have recently published their second book (which, of course, is already in my possession). It’s called Home Sweet Home and contains plenty of innovative recipes for cupcakes alongside more traditional cakes and American-inspired pies and tarts. Just delicious! This cake comes from this book, so I hope I am not breaching anyone’s copyright by posting the recipe on here. It is a banana sponge cake with a custard filling and a chocolate ganache on top. Now tell me you don’t want to eat it! The recipe involves three main steps, so I will divide ingredients and method accordingly.

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Ingredients (for the sponge)

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 125g soured cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/s tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method (for the sponge)

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.
  2. Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  3. In a jug, mix together the mashed banana, soured cream and vanilla extract.
  4. In a bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and bicarb.
  5. With the whisk on a medium speed, pour the soured cream mixture into the creamed butter and sugar and mix well to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter.
  6. Divide the batter between the two tins and bake for 25-35 minutes. Check the cakes are cooked with a skewer. The sponges should be light and bounce back when slightly pressed.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

Ingredients (for the custard)

  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 15g plain flour
  • 15g cornflour

Method (for the custard)

  1. In a medium pan, bring the milk and vanilla extract to the boil.
  2. In a bowl, mix the yolks with the sugar, flour and cornflour until it forms a paste. You can also add a small amount of the milk to loosen the mixture up.
  3. Once the milk is ready, slowly pour it into the bowl with the eggy mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
  4. Pour it back in the pan and cook on a medium heat, stirring constantly, until it forms a thick custard. The process will not take more than 5 minutes. You need to keep an eye on the eggs and keep on mixing because if the heat is too high they will scramble and you will end up with a mess. If you notice the eggs start creating lumps, take the pan off the heat and whisk ferociously until the mixture is smooth again.
  5. Once cooked, pour the custard in a bowl and cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming.

Ingredients (for the ganache)

  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 300ml double cream

Method (for the ganache)

  1. Pour the cream in a pan set over a medium heat and bring to the boil.
  2. Break the chocolate into smallish chunks into a bowl.
  3. Once the cream is hot, pour over the chocolate bits and leave to rest for a good couple of minutes.
  4. Mix to melt all of the chocolate.

Assembling the cake

  1. Once the sponges and the custard have cooled completely, start assembling the cake.
  2. Place one of the sponges on your cake stand or plate and pour the custard on top of it. Spread it with a palette knife and ensure the whole surface is covered. Top with other sponge layer.
  3. Wrap the cake in clingfilm and put it in the fridge to set for another 45 minutes.
  4. Once that is done, take the cake out of the fridge and peel off the clingfilm.
  5. Set the assembled cake on a wire rack standing on a baking tray and pour the ganache on top, ensuring the whole cake is covered. repeat the procedure if needed.
  6. I personally spread the ganache with a spatula, so that is why I didn’t get a shiny effect in the end.

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Dulce and Banana Cake

Yes, the pun is intended. I think. Another one of Lorraine Pascale’s recipe, this is a really tasty cake and allowed me to introduce booze to my baking, which is always a bit fun. Don’t take that too seriously, I am not an alcoholic. Use ripe bananas as they will give you the best result and only peel them and slice them when you are ready to roll, as they tend to go a bit brown (it’s called oxidization  if you want to impress your friends).

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Ingredients (for the topping)

  • 75g butter
  • 75g soft light brown sugar

Ingredients (for the sponge)

  • 150g butter, softened
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • couple of drops of vanilla extract
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 75g plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1 tbsp rum

Method

  1. Grease and line a 20cm/8in square tin with baking parchment and grease again. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. First make the topping. Place the butter and soft light brown sugar in a small pan over a medium heat. Once the butter is melted, turn up the heat and let the mixture bubble away for a few minutes, until it begins to thicken slightly. Stir it frequently so it does not catch on the bottom.
  3. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the lined tin and tip the tin back and forth to spread it out evenly. The mixture will eventually solidify in the tin so make sure to spread it out now.
  4. Now make the sponge mixture. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl (or food mixer) until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at time, beating hard between each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Then fold in both flours, the baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, treacle and salt and set aside.
  5. Slice the bananas into 5mm thick pieces. Arrange them in a single layer in the bottom of the tin. Pack them all in tight so they don’t move around once the cake mix goes over. Then drizzle over the rum.
  6. Now, carefully dollop the cake mix over the bananas and gently spread it out with the back of a spoon or palate knife, levelling the top. Pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes.
  7. After 35 minutes, remove the cake from the oven and insert a metal skewer or the blade of a small knife right into the centre (but not touching the bottom. It should come out completely clean. If there is some cakey gooeyness left on it just pop it back in the oven for another five minutes or so.
  8. Once the cake is cooked remove it from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes. Then put a large flat plate over the top of the tin and holding the tin and the plate, flip the whole lot over so that the tin is now upside down. Gently remove the tin and carefully peel off the baking parchment.
  9. Cut into squares and serve warm or cold.