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.
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:
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
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.