My weight loss diet, a rotten cold/flu over Christmas and our new kitchen nightmare notwithstanding, I was desperate to bake a cake in my new oven, in my new kitchen and could resist no longer.
I had spotted a recipe in my latest addition to my bookshelf “The Christmas Chronicles” by Nigel Slater, which was my Christmas present.
For the last two Christmases we have been operating a “Secret Santa” method of giving presents and I have to say that it has been a great success. There are really only five of us on my side of the family that exchange gifts, and by setting a fairly low limit and just giving one thing secretly, we all get something we want and nobody ends up spending loads of money they can’t afford on stuff that nobody needs. I wished for this book and so it appeared on Christmas Day, from Santa. I genuinely have no idea which one of my family bought it for me!
I like Nigel Slater. There is something about him that I find extremely endearing yet ever so slightly odd, but I love his more recent TV programmes. I love the way he seems to cook ad lib according to what he has in the fridge or garden and it all looks delicious. It’s an effortless style of cooking that I wish I could emulate, although I dare say that much of it is more carefully planned than it looks, but even so, it comes across as sophisticatedly rustic in a relaxed kind of way. I also rather like his kitchen.
Speaking of which, I now have my new kitchen. Getting it done turned out to be a nightmare but we ended up with the kitchen we wanted so that’s all that matters I suppose.
It isn’t finished. There is still some painting to do and a new floor to put down. A lot of the tiling will have to be redone as it’s absolutely terrible – I could have made a better job of it myself - and the tap dribbles, apparently because that design of tap dribbles – sometimes. Which is very odd because we have the exactly same style of tap in our French kitchen and it dribbleth not! (Another battle to fight.)
But we love the kitchen warts and all and it will be finished before too long. We didn’t go for fancy gadgets and gizmos, just good quality appliances and lots of cabinets to store all our stuff in such a way as we don’t have to fight to get things out of the cupboards. The colour is described as grey but in fact it’s a very pale and subtle sage green.
We have put our most noisy appliances, the washing machine and tumble drier, in the back porch, converting it into a utility room – or “futility room” as I read recently, which amused me no end and I shall refer to it as the FR from now on! The long awaited dishwasher is one of the built in appliances in the kitchen and it is amazingly quiet – how things have improved since we last bought one – I have to really listen hard to decide if I actually switched it on.
Anyway, I was desperate to make a cake in my brand new AEG oven and could wait no longer!
Nigel Slater’s recipes can be a bit wordy and not always easy to follow but I followed it to the letter and the cake was a great success. I have rewritten the recipe according to what I used and the way I went about it.
It had an excellent texture and flavour – except that I’m not entirely convinced about the cardamom. I’m tempted to think that it would have been even better with a more traditional addition of say ginger or cinnamon. The cardamom made it florally fragrant which I’m not sure is my cup of Earl Grey, but because it is otherwise so good I will definitely make it again. The crunchy topping was lovely but I might replace the cardamom with some cinnamon in the batter next time.
(Maybe I was put off by the fact that I can’t get past the thought that the little seeds inside a cardamom pod look alarmingly like mouse droppings!)
You can see the original recipe here.
3 medium bananas (about 375g when peeled)
1 tblsp lemon juice
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
90g golden caster sugar
90g light muscovado sugar
4 tblsp groundnut oil
For the topping
10 cardamom pods
2 tblsp golden caster sugar
Break open the cardamom pods and crush the seeds to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. Add the 2 tblsp caster sugar and mix together, set aside.
Break the bananas into chunks into a bowl and mash them with a fork, leaving them fairly lumpy rather than turning them into mush. Stir in the lemon juice and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 170°C / 150° fan / gas mk 3-4. Butter and line the base of a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.*
Put the two sugars into a large bowl with the eggs and beat with an electric whisk for 3-4 minutes until light and creamy. Add half the oil and whisk again, repeat with the other half.
Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and fold in. Add the mashed bananas and fold in.
Pour into the tin and sprinkle the cardamom mixture on top. Bake for 35-45 minutes until done. Cool in the tin before turning out.
*The original recipe states a 20cm square tin and bake for 35 minutes, but I wanted a round cake.
Cuts into 10-12 slices.