Suzzle banana cake recipe

Just the other day in the shop I had a sample plate of banana cake out. Yes, I know, many people already know what banana cake tastes like, but they’ve not necessarily tasted mine, and it’s nice to give people a little taste of something from time to time.

Suzzle banana cake

Anyway, I was going somewhere with this, I promise. On the day in question, a young couple came in with their incredibly cute baby intending – I think – just to look at the art in the shop, but ultimately leaving with a piece of the banana cake they’d sampled, and a request for me to post the recipe on the blog.

The mum had also asked me about sugar content, because the cake doesn’t taste too sweet, and she was thinking about whether or not she could give some to her baby once the first birthday milestone had been reached, since banana cake ‘felt’ like a healthy starter cake, or at least healthier than some.

This got me thinking, because even though there’s not masses of sugar in my banana cake, it might yet be possible to reduce it, so I’ll be having a play over the next few weeks to see how far I can get it down without completely killing the cake.  In the meantime, here’s my original recipe if you want to make the fully sinful version before I take out most of the sugar.

When I first made this cake I had actually set out to make a carrot cake.  I’d got the oil, golden syrup and eggs in the jug before realising I’d managed to run out of light brown soft sugar, and that all I had left was caster.  This wouldn’t normally be a big deal, but when you’re baking at 4am, the option to just nip out to the corner shop and grab some more is simply not there, even where I live in central London.  I couldn’t unmix the ingredients that were already in the jug, so instead I scouted around for an alternative to carrots and came across some overripe bananas and thought they had to be worth a try.  They were certainly a better option than the savoy cabbage or the onions, although part of me is now wondering whether there might not be an option for a savoury onion cake type thingy to go with soup.  Hmmmm…..

But back to the banana cake!  You will need:

Bowl ingredients:
125g Dove’s Farm GF plain flour
125g Dove’s Farm GF self-raising flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
8g bicarbonate of soda
3 large or 4 medium ripe bananas

Jug ingredients:
110g vegetable oil – I generally use rapeseed, sunflower is fine
80g golden syrup
140g caster/golden caster sugar (can substitute light/dark brown soft sugar, see recipe)
3 large free range eggs
5ml vanilla essence/seeds from 1 vanilla pod

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 5/180C.  Measure the ingredients into their respective containers.  Beat the jug ingredients with a metal spoon until they’ve formed a thick, gloopy liquid.  Mash the bananas into the flour mixture with a fork.  In terms of which sugar to use, I tend to work on the basis of how ripe the bananas are and therefore how much and what kind of flavour they’re going to bring to the recipe.  If the skins of the bananas are very yellow or slightly green, use a sugar with a higher molasses content, like light or dark brown soft sugar or, at a pinch, golden caster.  If the bananas are good and ripe/overripe and speckly-skinned, use plain old caster to counter the slightly acetoney taste.

Using a silicone spatula, stir the jug ingredients into the bowl ingredients until it’s all very thoroughly mixed.  Pour the lot into a lined traybake tray (and by lined I just mean with a long strip of greaseproof paper the width of the base of the tray, not fussing with the corners) measuring around 12″x7″ (30cm x 17.5cm), and cook for 40 minutes, or until a cake tester/cocktail stick comes out clean.  Fan ovens will cook it a little quicker.

Once it’s on the cooling rack, I generally sprinkle over a little demerara sugar, which then sticks in the still-moist top crust of the cake, or you can leave it to cool and frost it if you prefer.  I tend not to frost it because it’s nice as it is, but a good lemon or coconut frosting would work, as would vanilla buttercream, or even sandwiching it with chocolate spread.  It probably goes without saying that mixing in some chocolate chips before baking produces a more than edible result, or a handful of sultanas/dates is also nice, but it’s the simpler version I serve in the shop.  If you fancy experimenting, try adding a little grated orange or lime zest, then coating cubes of the finished cake in chocolate and coconut to make banana lamingtons.  Yum!

NB: For those not using GF flours, I’d recommend using medium eggs instead of large, as gluten-free flours tend to be thirstier than wheat flour.


Plain eggless sponge – the vegan adaptation experiment

I was having a chat with someone in one of my favourite Facebook groups last night.  It won’t surprise anyone to hear that the group in question is a bunch of ladies who are obsessed with making beautiful and delicious cakes.  Someone posted up a request for a decent eggless sponge recipe – something actually worth eating.  The lovely Sandra posted up this recipe, as the first eggless recipe she’d actually found to be edible.

Of course, the next step was someone wondering whether it was possible to do a dairy free version of the recipe, and we all got to thinking of alternative for the condensed milk, which seems to have a dual role of binder and sweetener in this recipe.  My first thought was using coconut cream, as I had a 250ml carton sitting on a kitchen shelf needing a cake to call home, and volunteered myself for the experiment.

What I’d not initially considered, of course, is that the original recipe also calls for butter, which may be part of what makes the original taste nice.  Still, I had some Trex in the fridge as a substitute, and decided that, so long as I tasted the mix and adjusted the flavouring before getting it into the oven to bake, I probably couldn’t go too far wrong.

While the recipe in question could be used as well for a large cake as for cupcakes, I decided to use cupcakes for proof of concept: if it turns out as nice for cupcakes as I think it will, I’ll definitely be using it in future as a sort of vegan Madeira.

Here’s how it went:

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Harvey helped out, as he’s finished school for the summer, so between us we added 310g of Dove’s Farm plain gluten free flour, 1.5tsp baking powder, 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, and 0.75tsp xanthan gum to a large bowl.  I got Harvey to stir this gently to mix it all evenly, and then we added 250ml of coconut cream, which we mixed in thoroughly before adding 225g of melted Trex and 235ml of orange juice, plus 2tsp vanilla essence.

So far, so good.  However, since the original recipe calls for close on 400ml of fluid in the form of the condensed milk, we weren’t surprised to see that it was going to take more fluid to get us where we needed, and that, like it or not, the mixture we had in the bowl wasn’t really sweet enough to call itself a ‘proper’ cake.  So, testing all the way, we ended up adding 100g of golden syrup in total, plus another 120ml of orange juice.  And by the time we’d done that, we had something that looked and tasted like a decent cake batter.

Some 35 minutes of baking later – which is a lot for a cupcake, even in a muffin case, and I finally called a halt to things.  There was no doubt that the cakes were cooked, but the texture, just from doing the spring test with a finger, made me suspect we had a problem on our hands, even before we got them out of the tin.  Yes, the cakes sprung back, but there was an obvious underlying squidginess that had me thinking of steamed puddings.

Actually, steamed pudding is not a bad way to think of the final result we achieved.  There was a lot of melted fat in the base of my muffin trays once the cakes were removed from the tins and the texture of the first one we demolished tested was very much more of a pudding than a cake.

And so, in one sense, we have a failure.  We didn’t end up with a cake.  However, for all that we didn’t get a cake out of the deal, the underlying flavour was good, and could only be improved by reducing the amount of Trex.  I think, were we to lower the amount of Trex and swap sugar for the golden syrup, we’d have a much better result.  So that’s an experiment for later in the week and next time, I’m pretty sure, we’ll have a winner on our hands 🙂


Back online at last!

It has been far too long since I last posted on here.  Between issues of family illness – my lovely Granny, who has been defying all medical expectations – and then some kind of problem with my computer which has been making internet access intermittent at best and impossible at worst, it’s not been possible to get on here, so it’s lovely to be back.

Fortunately, everything in the kitchen is working, so I’ve been busy baking through the last months with a mixture of cakes and quiches: everything from cupcakes for my brother’s wedding to girlie birthday cakes, via a Bugatti Veyron cake and a number of yummy vegetarian quiches.

And right now I have in the oven another experiment – of which more in another post – and the smell wafting round the house is amazing.  Which probably means it’s time for me to go and get things out of the oven.  Mmmmm… cake!

Flapjack recipe

And no, I don’t mean what some Americans mean by flapjacks, which is apparently some kind of pancake. I mean proper, oaty, sweet things that are sinfulness itself masquerading as health food.  They’re better for afternoon tea than scones with jam and cream, and even at Harvey’s strict school pass the ‘healthy’ test to be allowed into lunch boxes (no cakes or biscuits allowed).

My husband and son are addicted to them, and I’ve never yet had a complaint when I’ve made them, unless you count people worrying about the effect they’ll have on their waistline. The only reason I don’t get even fatter than I am is because I can’t eat them without making myself ill: I can’t even eat gluten-free oats, so these are definitely off the menu until I start work on an oat- and gluten-free flapjack… and develop the willpower not to scoff the resulting treats in one sitting!

If there’s one thing I particularly like about flapjacks, it’s their versatility. My son, Harvey, prefers them with Callebaut chocolate flakes sprinkled over the top before baking. I used to love them with dried blueberries and lemon zest added in place of the sultanas/raisins. And I have two trays in the oven baking – one with chocolate flakes and one without.

Chocolate chip flapjacks by

Harvey's favourite - choc chip flapjacks

Here is my fail-safe recipe for flapjacks. I hope you like them.

Suzzle Flapjacks

  • 350g porridge oats
  • 50g jumbo oats (optional – add 30g more normal oats if not using)
  • 230g butter
  • 230g demerara sugar (soft brown also works fine)
  • 2 good tbsps golden (corn) syrup
  • 100g sultanas/raisins

Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly grease a shallow baking tray measuring approx 33cm x 25cm.  If you have a teflon baking tray liner, use that instead as it will be much easier to get the flapjacks out at the end.  Place the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and place over a low heat.  While you wait for them to melt, weigh both types of oats into a large heatproof bowl, add the sultanas and mix well together.

Check the saucepan with the butter and sugar mixture.  Stir it regularly until everything has melted and the whole thing feels much less ‘gritty’ from the sugar granules – usually the ideal point is when the mixture has started simmering gently round the edge.

Pour the butter/sugar/syrup mix into the oats and stir thoroughly together until all the oats and sultanas are lightly coated.  Empty the mixture onto the baking tray and spread evenly, pressing into place with the back of a spoon.

Put the tray in the oven and bake for 9-10 minutes, or until the mixture is molten and turning a golden brown colour.  You can adjust this to suit your taste: my family like their flapjack quite chewy, but you can give it an extra minute or so if you want it to be a little crisper.

Let the flapjacks cool for a couple of minutes and absorb the liquid before dividing them into portions with a plastic knife: this is much easier done now than when they’ve had a chance to cool.  Let them cool for 8-10 minutes more before removing from the pan.  If you leave it too long and the flapjacks have started to weld themselves to your baking tray (some of my older non-stick trays have a tendency to errr stick), pop them back into a pre-heated oven for half a minute or so and you should be able to get them out.

And finally… put the kettle on for a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy!

The finished product should look something like this…

Flpajacks by

Mmmmm flapjacks!