[Roasted banana cake]
I once read that the universe didn’t need another banana cake. In that case, the universe and I might have to disagree.
We don’t disagree often though.
In fact, most of the time, we’re in a symbiotic agreement that all is in its place.
Let me tell you about a few nights ago.
It might have been Monday or Tuesday, I don’t know for sure, although I’d think it was Tuesday.
K. and I took a walk at dusk. With very diffuse clouds above our heads. And right after K. told me they might – perhaps – be northern lights not clouds, the sky turned into a beautiful firework of magnetic fields. Greens and purples. Right above. Reflecting in the snow around us.
And just like last week, when I saw norrsken for the very first time, I stayed there. Looking up until they melted back into the sky, leaving place to constellations and satellites.
On our way back, we could still see them in the distance. And as a truck drove past – carrying wood that would become something else – it smelled of walks in the forest. Those of the kind I cherish so much now that the snow is slowly melting, uncovering – everyday a bit more – grass and bushes. Yes, I never want to forget the snow.
I don’t want to forget this morning either. When I sat in the sun, with a cup of coffee and a slice of banana cake. I was wearing leggings and a thick sweater, oh, and the scarf my mum gave me right before we left France.
Because, you see, I had bananas on the kitchen counter – the one made of the somewhat retro plywood – ripe and spotted. And we all know it can only mean one thing: banana cake.
Yes, perhaps the universe doesn’t need another banana cake. But I did.
Cake à la banane rôtie
This cake will keep for days, well wrapped in clingfilm. In fact, I think it’s even better a day or two after. In fact, it keeps so well, that I almost always make a double batch to have cake all week long.
Some of you might want to skip the roasted banana purée if you’re in a hurry, and although I love the combination of roasted and fresh bananas, it will work almost as well if you choose to use only mashed fresh bananas. In this case, simply use three large ones, around 300-320g.
You could also make a rum glaze or a mascarpone frosting, but I think banana cake is one of the many things that are better eaten naked.
A few notes on method, the honey, piped butter, and baking temperature:
I do not let the butter come at room temperature whenever I cream it, as it will soften as you work it. And especially, in this recipe, because we add the warm banana purée which makes the whole softening process much faster.
The honey in this recipe, because it is an invert sugar, is used to bind with the water contained in the bananas, and make sure the cake will keep moist but not soggy for almost ever.
The flavour of honey is fairly subtle and complements the banana well.
As you now know, I’m very fond of this technique to get a neat crack on top of loaf cakes. I always pipe a thin line of soft butter on top of my unbaked loaf, using either a piping bag or even easier a paper cornet (remind me to show you how to fold one).
When the batter starts to rise, the butter will sink in, creating a neat crack.
When it comes to loaf cakes, I always like to bake them at high temperature and then reduce to finish the baking. I usually do 5 minutes at 180°C, 10 minutes at 170°C, and 25-30 minutes at 160°C.
For this banana cake, given how much moisture there is, I’ve found I get better results with 20 minutes at 180°C and then around 30 minutes at 160°C.
Cake à la banane rôtie
makes one large loaf cake
For the roasted banana purée
2 large bananas, with skin on
50 g caster sugar
For the caramelised roasted bananas
160 g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
180 g butter
130 g light brown sugar
50 g creamy honey
200 g roasted banana purée
1 banana, (approximately 100 g) mashed with a fork
3 eggs, at room temperature
10 g butter, at room temperature, to pipe on top of the cake
Start by making the roasted banana purée.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and place the bananas – skin-on – on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Prick a few holes into the fruits using a small paring knife and roast for 15 minutes, or until black with juices coming out. Allow to cold down until cold enough to handle.
In a small pan, cook the sugar over low heat to make a light caramel. While the sugar is cooking, peel the bananas, being careful not to burn your fingers.
When the caramel is just light brown. Take off the heat and add the bananas. Return to the stove, and cook slowly – stirring frequently to dissolve any bits of caramel that might have seized – until you can see the bottom of the pan as you stir, not unlike jam. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool down for 15-20 minutes.
In the meantime, butter and line a 1L loaf tin.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Place the cubed butter, sugar and honey in a large bowl, and cream for around 3 minutes. Add the banana purée and the mashed banana, and mix for a further minute.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a minute after each addition.
Add the flour and mix until just smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin, pipe a line of soft butter on top of the cake.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 160°C and bake for another 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Unmould immediately, placing the cake on its side. Cool down completely.