Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Belinda Jeffrey's most fabulous banana cake and David Lebovitz' crunchy nuts




A little while ago I bought some bananas from someone in the office raising money for their kid's school.  However, I happened to be away on a conference when the bananas arrived, so by the time I came back, they were overripe and not nice to eat any more. D'oh!

Bananas! Excuse the dodgy picture on the box, hehe.
But, all keen bakers know what overripe bananas mean - banana cake!  I wanted a good, old-fashioned banana cake, topped with cream cheese icing - yum! - and after searching through my cookbooks, I settled on Belinda Jeffrey's "Most Fabulous Banana Cake", from her Mix and Bake book.  (This particular recipe only used 3 bananas, so I peeled and froze the rest.  More baking to come!)

The recipe calls for a large round tin, but I made it in an oblong, as I thought this might make it easier to share at work.  I used this fabulous extendable baking tray thingo that I bought on my most recent trip to Germany - love it!

Raw dough, cooked cake.

So, once cooked, I sliced the rectangle in half lengthways...


One layer

... and layered on the icing!  I totally, totally love cream cheese icing!

Layering the icing


Layered up!

To fancify things a little, I topped the cake with some salted candied macadamias (recipe from David Lebovitz' Ready for Dessert, and available here on his blog!).  They were easy to make, even though I always find hot sugar a bit daunting.  All you gotta do for these is to put some sugar, nuts and water into a pan, whack it on high heat, and stir, stir stir until the sugar melts, gets crystally, and then re-melts again into a medium brown caramel.  Then you add cinnamon and some salt.

Cooking the caramel nuts

These were incredibly addictive.  Crunchy and sweet and salty and faaabulous!  Word of warning: Wait for them to cool before you try picking one up!  Hot sugar BURNS.  (Don't learn this the hard way).

Salted candied macadamias

I only needed a small amount to top the cake, so popped them into a snap-lock bag, and whacked them with a rolling pin the crush them a bit.  The remainder got eaten, very quickly.
Crush those nuts!
And here we have the finished cake...


Finished cake

And from the top...  As you can see, I had to slice some off so it would fit in the container.  (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!)
Cake in container


I quite liked the cake, but I don't think I'd describe it as the "most fabulous".  Texturally it was good, but I found it to be very sweet.  I know this is partly my fault, what with the crazy-thick icing and the candied nuts, but the cake itself was really sweet too.  And this was after I reduced the quantity of sugar quite significantly from the recipe.  You can't really reduce sugar in the icing, as this would affect the texture.  Perhaps the cake would work best in a single flat slab, with just a thin layer of icing on the top.

I think for the remainder of the bananas I'll stick to some tried-and-tested recipes, like Nigella Lawson's banana bread (my dad loves it!), or my favourite, Bill Granger's choc-chip banana bread.  Although having said that, Nigella does have some tempting banana recipes in Kitchen: banoffee cheesecake, coconut and cherry banana bread, and banana chocolate muffins!  And I remember drooling over the insanely decadent banana, chocolate and peanut butter muffins that Panda & Cakes made.  Too many options!  Hehe, maybe I should just use them in smoothies and stop obsessing over all these recipes!

10 comments:

Magpie said...

Cooks Illustrated banana bread is awesome, if time-consuming. You microwave bananas and drain the juice (who knew they had juice?) out of them, then boil down to make a syrup that you add to the mix. *Very* moist and banana-y.

David said...

Glad you liked those peanuts...they are addictive, however (when they're cooled)...so be careful!
: )

Gemma said...

It looks delicious and I love the idea of the crunchy nuts on top. Nigella's banana bread is my standard recipe but might have to try Bill Granger's now you've mentioned it! Think it might be time to buy bananas so I can bake at the weekend...

Gx

My Restaurants Melbourne said...

I love the idea thAt you can purchase bananas now as fundraisers instead of chocolates!! Great idea, the cake looks good to Sarah

tytty said...

hi sarah,

may i recommend the banana bread recipe of Chez Pim's? I always like sugar to play a background role; the banana, coffee & rum flavours are the main stars in her recipe

Emma @CakeMistress said...

Far out, I want a slice of that right now. The creamcheese frosting is calling me.
Lolz, I have that exact same red container and can attest to the fact that cakes just don't fit in there, hence the sacrificial slice must be consumed, he he he.

LimeCake said...

That banana cake looks incredible! and with the frosting? Yum!

tori said...

I swear I buy bananas just so they can get brown and I have an excuse to make a cake- that icing looks incredible!

Eat to Live said...

Epic cakeage! I also love the nut topping idea, but I don't dare try to replicate it myself (partly because I am so accident prone, and partly because I would gobble the blighters).

I heartily recommend using frozen bananas to make fake ice cream. If you blitz them in the food processor long enough you get a texture a bit like Mr Whippy. Ludicrous amounts of cocoa powder help too.

LR said...

MMMM! That looks faboso!