I also have a whole mess of lozenges which are pretty good for noise control when I start coughing heaps. They were definitely useful at Tim's graduation on Thursday. There were about forty thousand people (well, it felt like at least that many) getting graduated that night and I'm pretty sure not one of them wanted some lady spluttering during their moment of glory. In case you're wondering, Tim was graduating with Honours in Media Studies which makes him super-qualified to do all sort of interesting things that no-one out there seems to need people to do right now, but fingers crossed that market opens up soon...Either way I'm pretty proud.
Tim's family came down to be there for the graduation as well and his mum gifted us some bananas. There's nothing I like more than a little unpremeditated push towards baking. Muffins felt a too obvious, but I couldn't be bothered with anything too high-concept either. What a quandary. Then I remembered this eye-catchingly named recipe that I found while hopping from blog to blog like a frog on a lily-pad. It's called Ponderosa Cake. According to the friendly person whose blog I found it on, the cake is named after some regional pine trees. Secretly I hope it was so named because someone wanted to immortalise their passion for Bonanza in baked form.
Recipe inspired by a recipe found on Chocolate & Chakra. I say inspired because I completely mucked things up as I went along - didn't have enough butter, added 2 eggs by mistake instead of one, forgot the yoghurt till it was about to go in the oven - so the end result was almost a completely different cake...
100g soft butter
3/4 cup sugar
2-3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda
1/2 cup plain yoghurt or sour cream
125g good chocolate, chopped roughly
1 -2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
Set your oven to 180 C/350 F and line a square or rectangular cake tin with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar together till fluffy, then beat in the eggs. Add the bananas, then fold in the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Finally mix in the yoghurt, plus half the chopped chocolate and cinnamon. Spread it into the cake tin, then sprinkle over the rest of the chocolate and cinnamon, plus the brown sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
I'd rather have a thousand coughs than a blocked nose and lose my sense of taste, because Ponderosa Cake is incredibly good. It's very light and tender and keeps well. The blast of heat in the oven caramelises the spiced, sugary chocolate topping slightly, providing depth of flavour and a pleasing gritty crunch to the moist, banana-y base. Happily, it used some of the treats I picked up at the recent food show - like The Collective yoghurt and Whittakers chocolate. Despite the fact that I somehow managed to get things wrong every step of the way, this is really a very straightforward cake. It's ideal for those times where you want something a little out of the ordinary but not so far out of the ordinary that you're up at 6am measuring the temperature and viscosity of sugar syrups.
I'm not sure if Hoss and Little Joe ever bonded over banana cake, but it's a nice thought, right? I understand when my mum and her brothers and sisters were growing up, Bonanza was appointment viewing on TV... You know you want to hear that theme song again!
Title via: 2Pac featuring Dr Dre, California Love. I know, it's one state over from the Ponderosa. There couldn't be a more obvious song that springs to mind for the sadly late Tupac Shakur, but no matter how often it's thrashed it's still a goodie, and one of those songs I knew all the words to (except for an embarrassingly long time I thought it was "city of corn chips" instead of "Compton", what can I say, there was no Google back then.)
The Music and the Mirror from A Chorus Line. This song is actually mostly dancing but the singing that's there is so gorgeous - the line "I'll do you proud" slays me a bit. It's a song about a woman who needs a job, so she's auditioning for the chorus even though she is good enough to be a star. Well, it seems a bit more dramatic when set to music anyway, and the original Donna McKechnie is pretty incomparable but there's plenty of fun to be found on youtube of that amazing dance in the red skirt. If you've only seen the film version of A Chorus Line, they cut this song - criminal!
The Ali and Toumani album, a recently-released collaboration between the late Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate. It's...an absolute beauty.
Next time: well, hopefully I my immune system and I become friends again. I'm down in Christchurch on Friday for Chartfest then Dunedin on Saturday for Smokefreerockquest so I can't afford to be this germtastic.