March 22, 2024



I've been back in the UK for a short spell.

When I got home, the car we leave in the UK, (officially an old banger) wouldn't start.  The new battery that was fitted only a few weeks ago had failed.  How odd.  The old battery lasted nine years but the new one only eleven weeks.  Very annoying.  However, Halfords came out and changed it two days after I arrived.  My brother drove me everywhere I needed to go whilst the car was out of action, bless him.  

There has been plenty for me to do whilst I've been here and the weather hasn't been too bad, mostly fine.  I managed to cut the grass (once my brother had started the mower) and tidy the garden a bit.  I am mindful of the fact that too much tidying at this time of year can deprive insects and wildlife of their habitat until Spring properly arrives so left piles of leaves and moss undisturbed.  

On the first day of Spring and in the sunshine I fetched the garden table and chairs out of the shed to enjoy it.  I brought the pots of geraniums out from their overwintering spot in the garage, gave them a little drink and a feed and wished them well.  They're in a sunny, sheltered spot so hopefully might survive any frosts until the next visit when they can be restored to their proper place on the patio.  As I sat in the late afternoon sunshine I'll swear I could hear them stretching their stalks as they soaked up the warmth.

Being without a car was a challenge but luckily I live a ten minute walk from the village shop.  There I spotted a bunch of bananas which were past their best for 50p.  Irresistible!  And after a busy week I felt that me and my brother definitely deserved a cake.  A proper cake with icing and decorations.

The recipe is adapted from one in a book by Joanne Wheatley.  She covered hers all over with buttercream and decorated it with caramelised pecan nuts.  I just used what I had in stock so added some bronze sprinkles.  

I used a supermarket own brand flour, which I tend to buy when I'm here because it's so cheap, and, with sometimes long intervals between visits, I don't like the idea of leaving expensive flour that might go to waste.  I sifted it well (not such a chore) and it was perfectly good.  I also used the sugar I had in stock rather than the light soft brown sugar in the original recipe.  That was fine too, possibly adding to the caramel flavour.  My baking powder was a bit out of date but I decided to risk it rather than go out and buy a new pack.....which might then be left unused for some time.  It worked fine.

My icing sugar had gone hard because he who made and iced the Christmas cake hadn't closed up the paper packet!  I whizzed it well in the food processor but it still had some small lumps in it.  In actual fact they added to the crunch of the sprinkles on top and did not spoil what was a perfectly delicious cake.

It rose like a dream, looked very glamorous, had an excellent texture and tasted utterly divine.  Definitely a cake I will make again and it would probably be a good seller at a cake stall.  


For the cake

250g baking spread or softened butter

200g light muscovado sugar

3 large eggs, beaten

2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed roughly with a fork

300g self raising flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

a splash of milk if needed

For the buttercream

150g spreadable butter, or softened butter.  I used Lurpak Spreadable.

300g icing sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 generous tblsp caramel spread.  I used Bon Maman confiture du lait

splash of milk


Preheat the oven to 170° C / 150° fan / gas mk 3.  Grease two 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking paper.

Put the butter/spread and sugar into a large bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon or hand held electric whisk until light and fluffy (I used my Kenwood stand mixer).

Add the beaten eggs roughly in thirds and beat in.  Add the bananas and beat in.

Fold in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon.  Mix well to combine, adding a little milk if it seems very stiff, and divide between the prepared tins.  

Level the tops and bake for 30-35 minutes until done.  Cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream, put the butter or spread into a large bowl and beat until soft.  Sift in the icing sugar and cinnamon and beat until smooth.  Add the caramel and beat in.  Add a splash of milk to make a soft, spreadable consistency.  (I used the food processor to make mine, blitzing the icing sugar first to remove lumps then adding the other ingredients.)

Sandwich the two cakes together with half of the buttercream and spread the rest on top.  Decorate with sprinkles of your choice.

Cuts into 8-10 generous slices.