14 June 2011

just slip on a banana peel, the world's at your feet...


I said this recently to someone on Twitter which is roughly as public as it gets - as recent international political situations might attest - so I think I can repeat it without shame here: whenever I can't sleep because I'm feeling nervous about something, (and there is a lot to be nervous about in life and I'm not the best sleeper), I imagine cakes. Pies. Ice cream. Not just sitting in front of me waiting to be eaten, and not muffins jumping sheep-like over a fence to be counted, but things that I could make in future, new flavours to combine. Recipes I haven't tried before, or new recipes made up on the spot.

It, ah, does require a certain predilection towards baking in the first place, but you're welcome to try it. It's surprising how well "would nutmeg and coconut go together in icecream" can squash thoughts like "was that the beginning of an earthquake or just the muscles in my leg twitching". On that note...hope everyone in Christchurch is holding it down right now, after yesterday's aftershocks of unfair size and frequency.

This banana cake is one such recipe, invented in the night and fortunately remembered in the morning, and even more fortunately, pretty delicious. Yes, banana cake is one of the more common cakes you might learn to make, and so you may not feel the need to pay much attention to this one...but I'd like to think it's a sidestep to the left of your usual recipe.

Also, I appreciate that it's a pain to weigh out bananas like I've asked, but a cake recipe calls for accuracy. This isn't a bowl of cereal we're making here. That said, it's roughly three small bananas or two and a half good-sized bananas (oo-er) (sorry.)

Banana Cake with Golden Syrup Icing

250g ripe bananas
3 tablespoons oil (I use rice bran)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste/extract
200g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Set your oven to 180 C/350 F and line a 20cm springform caketin with baking paper.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork till they're good and smooth. If you like, you can switch to a whisk to mash them up - it's okay if there's lumps of bananas, but a decent liquidy texture is what you're after here.

Whisk in the oil, sugar and vanilla, and then sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Carefully fold together with a spatula, then scrape into the prepared caketin.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, and allow to cool.


Mix 1 tablespoon of golden syrup, about 1/2 cup icing sugar, and a tablespoon of water together. Add a tiny pinch of salt. If you're using a whisk you might be able to get out all the lumps, otherwise it'd probably pay to sift your icing sugar. If you need more icing sugar, add more. Pour over the cake.

I had to have a slice before I committed to icing it and taking photos and writing about how nice it is - just in case my cake was delicious in the mind alone - so it's lucky that it actually does taste gratifyingly good.

It's tender and light, with a slightly chewy crust and a fresh banana flavour. There's also a soft fluttering hint of vanilla, like someone's eyelashes brushing against your cheek. The golden syrup, with its dark stickiness, and its buddy the pinch of salt, manage to temper the aggressively bland sweetness of the icing sugar. Altogether, it's a bit of a masterpiece for something thought up in the middle of the night to ward off other bad thoughts.

Title via: Donald O'Conner's Make 'Em Laugh, from one of the best films on this earth, Singing In The Rain.

Music lately:

Tiny Ruins, Little Notes. It's pretty, but not just pretty.

Neil Patrick Harris' opening song from the Tony Awards yesterday. I love a good song and dance number as it is, but this is particularly excellent. I'm slowly working my way through this show on youtube.

Next time: possibly (finally) those snickerdoodles, however I also have found the most amazing tofu recipe. Hopefully, whatever it is, there won't be such a huge gap inbetween posts like there has been this month.


  1. Thank you for weighing the bananas! It personally makes me really antsy when recipes just say a number of bananas... don't people know they're never the same size? *splutterings*

    That said, bananas are still around $3 each here so this cake is but a dream... I hope it helped calm your nerves nicely, though :)

  2. Ever since I bought a scale (didn't realise they were like...$5 off Ebay!), I am a total convert! Especially for ingredients like flour.

    Also golden syrup icing sounds so glorious for banana cake...very winter appropriate too, I'm finally starting to crave things full of sticky gooeyness.

  3. Banana cake is a firm favourite of mine - to bake and to eat. I love bananas in baking. Cake, muffins, cupcake, roasted in its own skin, etc. But I've never teamed it with golden syrup icing. Might just do that the next time I bake a banana cake! (Golden syrup is also another fav - I have copious amounts in my porridge in the morning!).

  4. I love being given a weight for bananas! Mind you, I will completely ignore it. I make banana cake when I have overripe bananas, and I add as many as I have.

  5. ooh! ooh! twitter-cake-tweet, that was MOI! *feels vicariously famous*
    that looks lovely.
    banana cake scares me a little because it was my mum's go-to cake and i have horrible memories of 3 or 4-day-old cake, stale but warmed from loitering in my lunchbox half the day, then taking the gladwrap off only to have the icing (the only good part!) come off with it. perhaps i will have to revisit the banana cake.. sometime soon. we'll see. baby steps.
    in other news, i took your advice last night and this morning made pear, pecan & maple cakes, which were enjoyed (well, eaten - hopefully enjoyed) by some lovely new brighton new-friends. :)

  6. Neil Patrick Harris' opening number is terrific! I love the person in the crowd at the end who mouths "wow!"

    I haven't had too many positive thoughts about theater lately, but this song is almost enough to make me want to act again:)

  7. Hah - I like the NPH / Hugh Jackman duet even more!! Thank you for posting that link:)

  8. Wooohooo I can connect with the Tonys at last. WAR HORSE, based on the book-much-beloved-by-my class, won a few. Beautiful story, by Michael Morpurgo - writer of exquisite children's books which are achingly real and worth a read by all ages. (Your banana cake looks worth a try, too. Looks easy enough - just have to wait for the bananas to soften up.)

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  10. Well done!! Loving the golden syrup-banana vibe going on!! x

  11. Oh yummy! That cake looks delicious. I love banana cake!

    Also Neil Patrick Harris was fabulous at the Tony's and his closing rap cracked me up too!

  12. Love the sound of this cake - as soon as I get off my butt and go to the supermarket I'll be getting some more bananas. Have a link to this posting in my latest - http://nellamiacucina-alana.blogspot.com/2011/06/gary-banana.html

  13. Golden syrup icing...wow! I seem to be on a bit of a baking phase and this sounds amazing.

  14. AnonymousJuly 02, 2011

    Love that plate, love the golden syrup icing (honestly. that sounds like the best thing ever), love Tiny Ruins (great show at Mighty Mighty the other week)!

    I don't want to encourage your insomnia, but sheesh you come up with some mighty delicious-sounding recipes. Keep it up!