We have declared Veganuary over for the year. I know we have two more days of January to go, but we decided that today would be a good opportunity to celebrate the approach of February with a roast dinner. It’s Sunday, it’s raining, it’s cold and miserable – what could be more appropriate? We’re breaking ourselves in gently and going for slow-roast chicken, rather than the more traditional beef, which we hardly ever eat, mainly because the quality here is so unreliable.
In view of this momentous occasion, Robin has decided that today is the day to investigate the parsnips he planted back in the autumn. Mr Patchy has been using the pots as somewhere handy to lie down, but he hasn’t been discriminatory – all the plants have had an equal squashing. Et voilà, here’s the first one coming out of its pot:
In the meantime, we have some unloved (for which, read ‘completely black’) bananas in the fruit bowl, just asking to be made into a cake to send to our lovely vets for their tea-break tomorrow. I can’t send them yet another loaf of banana bread (we have over-ripe bananas on an embarrassingly frequent basis), so I am baking a chocolate banana marble cake by way of an experiment. I haven’t baked a marble cake since I was about 17, so I decided to just use my usual banana loaf recipe and flavour half of the mixture with cocoa powder at the end. It seems to have worked a treat. (I’m doing this while keeping one eye on the Federer/Nadal final, which seems to be going on forever).
Don’t forget to mix in the extra bit of flour at the end – this is so that the chocolate half doesn’t end up with a higher dry-to-wet ratio than the other half once the cocoa is added – if the two batters don’t have the same consistency, they won’t cook at the same speed.
The icing isn’t strictly necessary – normally I wouldn’t bother, as the cake is much more transportable without it, but those vets do have a sweet tooth…
For those of you still committed to a vegan diet, it is very easy to make this cake suitable – just replace the eggs with two flax eggs (1 tablespoon of ground flax seed to 3 tablespoons water per egg – mix and leave in the fridge for at least an hour before using). It would be fine made with either non-dairy margarine or with the same weight of sunflower oil.
Chocolate banana marble cake
Serves 9 – 10
You will need a 1kg loaf tin – mine measures 11cm x 21cm – well greased or lined with non-stick baking paper
100g very soft margarine or butter
140g brown sugar (I used Demerara)
2 eggs (or 2 flax eggs)
2 very ripe bananas (mine weighed 150g total peeled weight)
170g flour + 30g self-raising flour
30g cocoa powder (pure cocoa, not drinking chocolate)
1 tablespoon milk or milk replacement (may not be needed)
For the icing:
100g icing sugar
25g very soft butter or margarine (I do use butter here)
15g cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons of cream, milk or milk replacement
Put the margarine or butter, the brown sugar and the bananas into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth (or use a wooden spoon and some elbow grease if you don’t have an electric mixer).
Add the eggs (or flax eggs) and the 170g flour and mix again. Now separate the mix into two halves – I did measure mine, because I am hopeless at guessing – you do need to be fairly accurate.
Add the cocoa powder to one half of the mix and add the extra 30g flour to the other half. If the cocoa mix feels stiffer than the other mix, add a few drops of milk to loosen it.
Using a dessert spoon, divide the two mixes into the loaf tin in a chequer board pattern – you will need six spoons of each mix (three for each layer), as illustrated below.
Then spoon the rest of the two mixes on top, putting the banana mix on top of the chocolate mix and vice versa.
Use a table knife to create the marble pattern – drag it firmly through the mix crosswise several times, then lengthwise two or three times (see below).
Bake for about 55 minutes at 170c (but check after 45 minutes and cover the top loosely with foil if you think it is getting too brown). The cake should be well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Allow to cool completely before icing.
If you are icing the cake, simply mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and spread on top of the cake. Start with one tablespoon of the cream or milk and add the rest if the mix is not coming together smoothly.
By the way, I would like you to know that I didn’t eat that piece of cake – I reassembled it and it’s going in its entirety to the vets tomorrow! (Although Linda is the official cake courier, so there are no guarantees in that department).