Monday, 20 January 2014

Banana loaf

What better way to herald a (hopefully regular) return to blogging than with a cake recipe? Clearly there are more articles on here relating to cake than anything else.

I've many things to update since my last post (to be detailed in a forthcoming post) not least that I have returned to the place of operation of the ICCHFC and with that a cake request. My cake "prowess" was much vaunted by a former colleague who couldn't believe that I hadn't supplied cake yet. Consequently she practically demanded a banana cake.

Who am I to disappoint? After a week for banana-ripening this was my riposte:

Clearly I couldn't just turn up with a bog-standard banana loaf. Mine was enhanced with a banana cream filling and topped with a rich ganache and some chewy banana coins.

I'm pleased to say it went down rather well. So much so that the requester actually took a break from a meeting for cake sampling.

This was a tried and tested recipe but it wasn't hit-you-in-the-face banana-y, as it has been before. I suspect banana ripeness is the crucial factor. Previously I've used bananas that are so mottled with brown spots they've practically walked out of the fruit dish. This time I didn't use such ripened fruit having read somewhere that the ripeness wasn't actually a string determining factor in imparting banana flavour. I disagree.

Anyhoo, despite me also thinking that it was a tad over-baked, it was still a good experiment. The banana cream adds a burst of freshness and a hit of banana. The chocolate topping is good but one could suggest that ganache may be too rich and over-powering in the quantity I used. I think it needs a light covering instead of a generous slathering. The banana coins were a good addition giving a textural element to the cake.

Anyway on to the recipe that I would use next time (including the reduced ganache quantities).

Banana loaf recipe

3 very ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 tbsp honey
8oz plain flour
4oz butter, softened
4oz Muscavado sugar
1.5tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2oz banana coins, roughly chopped to decorate
For the banana cream filling:
75ml double cream
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2tbsp icing sugar, sifted
Squeeze lemon juice
For the chocolate ganache topping:
50ml double cream
50g dark chocolate
1/2oz butter

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time (add a little flour to prevent curdling), and the honey.
3. Mash the bananas but be sure to leave some large-ish lumps.
4. Gently stir in the bananas and chocolate.
5. Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarb and fold in until combined.
6. Pour the the mix into a buttered and lined 2lb loaf tin (add a little milk to loosen the batter, if necessary)
7. Bake at 175°C for 30mins then cover with foil. Continue to bake and check every 15mins until done (a skewer comes out clean)
8. Meanwhile to make the banana cream gently whip the cream to the soft peak stage. Add all the other ingredients and gently combine. (NB. Add the sugar, vanilla to taste).
9. Once the loaf has baked and cooled. Split horizontally and sandwich together with the banana cream.
10. To make the chocolate ganache, heat the chocolate, cream and butter in a bain marie until the chocolate has melted. Stir to ensure all the ingredients are fully combined the refridgerate until the mix has thickened to a spreadable conssitency.
11. Slather the chocolate icing all over the top of the cake and douse liberally with banana pieces to finish.

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