Is it just our household that only ever seems to have black bananas? I am sure they are yellow when I buy them (or green, even) but by the time I glance at them again, they look as though they are suffering from terminal black spot.
Over the years, I have made squillions of variations of banana bread, all pretty straightforward, but I think this one is hands-down the easiest. As long as your bananas are really soft, you just chuck everything into the bowl at the same time and give it a vigorous thrashing with a wooden spoon (if your bananas need a bit of help, mash them well with a fork first or just mix the cake in a food processor).
You could use an electric hand mixer if you want to – I would have done that, but mine has decided it will only work if it is standing on its end with its whisks in the air, which isn’t much use unless you are making a cake somewhere where there is zero gravity. Time for a purchase, me-thinks. I must say this one is very old (more than 30, I think) and the switch hasn’t worked for years – as we don’t have on/off switches on our electrical sockets here in Turkey, it is a miracle that I haven’t been electrocuted as I pull the plug from the wall every time I want it to stop. I should admit that I’ve had many drownings in cake mixture though, when I’ve been a bit hasty in my plugging in technique!
I’ve been having a little baking session this evening. We have friends arriving from the UK and they should be with us around midnight. I never quite know what people will want when they’ve been travelling all day, so there is a selection of savoury nibbles in case of the sudden appearance of wine or beer, the banana cake in case tea is required, along with two loaves of rye soda bread. This is really intended for breakfast toast tomorrow, but is delicious slathered in butter and jam (or Marmite if your name is Robin) when it is fresh from the oven.
Toast the cat has been helping me with a little guest preparation this afternoon. I was trying to make up the bed in the spare room – I walked around to the other side of the bed to straighten the sheet and this happened:
Our cats are absolutely banned from the guest rooms, as we have several family members with cat allergies, so there has to be some refuge from the cats somewhere in the house. For this reason, the cats are extra determined to get in there at any cost, the second someone carelessly leaves a door ajar (or loses concentration while bed-making). Meanwhile, Gorgeous Gordon excelled himself by going missing for 24 hours, then turning up for his tea with a giant bloated tick attached to his eyelid. That is what you get when you play with the goats – I keep telling him this, but he doesn’t listen. I should hasten to add that GG is one of our ‘garden cats’ and has no official access to any rooms in the house whatsoever, regardless of whether they are guest rooms or not. Here he is this evening, sleeping off the shock of having his pet tick stolen (and flushed) by Jayne.
Life back in Turkey is the same as ever and it is hard to believe that we were away for three and a half months. Last weekend we were forecast to have the tail-end of Storm Zorba – the ‘medicane’ that caused so much damage in Greece the previous week. This sent the visitors from the big cities scurrying home in their thousands. We pretended to feel sorry, and made sympathetic noises, but secretly we were all jolly glad to have our town back. In the end, we had two heavy downpours, accompanied by the obligatory thunder and lightning, but nothing unusual for this time of year, while the wind barely summoned enough puff to ruffle a tablecloth.
Anyway, back to the important matter in hand. You can add anything you like to the basic banana mix – I added chopped walnuts, but some chocolate chips (or both of these) would be good here too. I didn’t add spice, as I wanted the bananas to shine through, but cardamom always goes nicely with bananas (and especially with chocolate), or a little cinnamon would be an option too. Or just leave it plain. If you don’t want to bother with the icing, sprinkle the cake with a little extra brown sugar before you bake it, which will leave you with a lovely crunchy top layer.
All-in-one banana drizzle cake
You will need a loaf tin, approx 21 x 11cm, lined with baking paper or very well greased
200g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
140g brown sugar (any type – I used Demerara)
140g very soft butter or margarine
2 ripe bananas – the more over-ripe, the better
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt (or milk and a teaspoon of rice, cider or white wine vinegar)
60g chopped walnuts (optional – replace with choc chips if you prefer)
4 tablespoons icing sugar (optional)
A few drops of vanilla extract (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC.
Put everything except the nuts (if using) into a large bowl (I put the flour in first, so that it doesn’t fly everywhere when I start mixing). If you not quite as allergic to washing up as I am, you could always mix everything in a food processor of course.
I forgot about not putting the nuts in at the beginning, as you can see from the photo, so prtend they are not there. It’s not the end of the world, but it makes it harder to see when your mixture is lump-free.
Beat everything together with your choice of weapon – wooden spoon, large fork or electric hand mixer would all work – until you have a smooth mixture. Stir in about three quarters of the nuts, if using. Save the others for the topping.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth the top with the back of the spoon. If you are not intending to make the drizzle icing, sprinkle the cake with a little more brown sugar.
Bake for approximately 50 – 55 minutes, turning after 40 minutes if one side is browning more than the other.
Allow to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely (leaving the cake in the tin for a while helps to ensure the centre is fully cooked).
For the icing, put the icing sugar into a small bowl and add a few drops of water and a splash of vanilla. Stir until well combined, adding a little more water if necessary. You are looking for a consistency where the icing will trickle from a teaspoon.
Drizzle the icing over the cake and scatter with the remaining chopped walnuts.
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