This is one of those recipes I've had my eye on for ages and with four small bananas looking unloved in the fruit bowl the opportunity came along. Also, I had been chatting to one of the ladies that runs an English tea room at one of the local events every October here in France and she reminded me that I made a cake or two for them last year. I’m still not eating much more than the occasional small slice of cake myself but it occurred to me that I could make a banana cake, freeze it, and bring it out for the designated day.
The recipe is Nigella Lawson's "banana bread" from her early book "how to be a domestic goddess" which I have very rarely used. The banana bread appealed to me because it included rum soaked sultanas!
I stuck to the recipe apart from using golden caster sugar instead of white and did my usual trick of making a couple of muffins from a little of the mixture. This enables me to do a "quality control" check. In other words I can taste the cake and make sure it is good enough to sell - otherwise donating a cake I have never made before can be a bit risky. I also covered the cake loosely with foil for the last fifteen minutes of baking as it was already looking nice and brown - cakes that look over baked do not sell well at cake stalls I have found!
After tasting the muffin I would have to disagree with Nigella's statement that "the alcohol doesn't pervade". I thought you most definitely could taste the rum! I had used some Kraken spiced rum as that was what was lurking on the booze shelf in the pantry and it worked really well. In fact the rum flavour was so noticeable that I wondered if I had put too much in! (I hadn’t.)
So consequently I have renamed this cake from the rather uninspiring "banana bread" because I think the flavour of the rum soaked sultanas, and the walnuts, made it rather special. It's my favourite banana cake recipe so far!
(It would also be great if made entirely into muffins, probably at least a dozen I would think.)
Well, as it happens, I fetched the cake from the freezer for an event at home as I ran out of time to bake anything else! It was delicious, very moist, a lovely texture and you could definitely taste the rum!
175g plain flour
½ tsp bicarb
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
125g unsalted butter, melted
150g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
4 small very ripe bananas, or a total peeled weight of 300g, mashed
60g walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
First, put the rum and sultanas into a small saucepan, bring to the boil, turn off the heat and set aside. Leave them for the sultanas to absorb the rum and plump up for at least an hour.
When ready to make the cake, put a paper liner into a 900g (2lb) loaf tin, or grease the tin well, and preheat the oven to 170°C / 150° fan / gas mk 3.
Put the flour, bicarb, salt and and baking powder into a medium bowl and mix together well.
In a separate large bowl, beat together the melted butter and the sugar. I used a hand held electric food mixer but a wooden spoon would work fine.
Beat in the eggs one at a time then the mashed bananas.
Drain the soaked sultanas and add to the mixture with the walnuts and vanilla. Stir well to combine.
Add one third of the flour mixture into the bowl and stir well to combine, then the rest, one third at a time.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and level the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cover loosely with foil for the last 15 minutes if the cake is already looking nice and brown.
*I used a couple of spoonfuls of the mixture to make separate muffins, taking them out of the oven when cooked, after 25 minutes.
Cool in the tin.
Cuts into 10-12 slices.