Each year at least one of the magazines that I subscribe to (yes, I subscribe because I'd only end up buying them each month, and so it works out much cheaper this way!) has a freebie calendar, which is usually really useful. I don't actually use a calendar on the wall that much any more, preferring an electronic means of keeping track of where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing, but I still like to have the calendar on the wall. (I think this harks back to my childhood, where all events were meticulously recorded on the calendar lest we forgot something...)
This year, the calendar is from the BBC Good Food magazine, and it's a good one. I have sometimes found that when the calendars are sponsored by certain companies every single recipe contains their ingredient. This is fine if they've got a reasonable range to choose from, but it gets a bit old to have 'X-brand' cheese in every single recipe. Anyway, this year the sponsor is Dr Oetker, but happily almost none of the recipes have a sponsored ingredient in them, they're just good BBC Good Food recipes.
Anyway, this is leading somewhere, I promise. I have spent most of the year walking past this calendar and seeing the recipes each month (January - Frosty yogurt orange cake, February - Passion fruit cupcakes, March - Sultana tea loaf) and haven't made any of them yet. Until now. Turning over the page just over a month ago I was greeted by Little banana cakes with maple pecan frosting. So far so unexciting. Not really a recipe for me as I can't eat pecans. But then I realised that adapting this recipe would be perfect for some of the ingredients I had around needing using up. Maple syrup and a very ripe banana (just the one lonely one - not helpful for the majority of recipes, which require many very ripe bananas; I'm sure I'm not the only one out there to only get one small ripe banana left over...) called my name.
An adapted recipe ensued:
Little Maple Banana Cakes
50g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
80g light muscovado sugar
105g self raising flour
40g maple syrup
1 large egg
1 very overripe banana, mashed (mine weighed 70g after removing the skin)
Usual method for making buttercream, if you want (i.e. about half butter to sugar - I'd be tempted to use about 40-50g butter for six cakes and therefore about 100-140g icing sugar)
Flavourings as desired (orange, lemon, maple syrup etc)
- Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C. Grease a 6 hole muffin tin well with butter (or, obviously, use 6 holes of a 12 hole tin...)
- Cream the butter and muscovado sugar (if you don't want to do this step separately then either use a hand mixer, NOT a stand mixer or make sure your butter is super, super soft - I thought mine was, but clearly not - the butter wouldn't mix into the rest of the ingredients using a stand mixer and I ended up decanting into a different bowl and blitzing with a hand mixer).
- Add the rest of the ingredients except the raisins and beat well until combined.
- Stir in the raisins and divide between the prepared tins.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.
If topping with buttercream, make up as usual (beat butter until soft, add icing sugar in a couple of batches, beating until well combined, light and fluffy - I usually add a splash of water to make the mixture easier to beat) and add flavourings as desired. Maple syrup might be good here.
I love, love, loved these. They aren't too sweet, they aren't too banana-ry and the flavour of the maple syrup doesn't come through strongly. That makes them sound a failure doesn't it, none of the constituent flavours being readily identifiable. But in fact, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The cakes are moist and deliciously dense, sweet but not overly so, and the maple syrup adds undertones and is subtle. The raisins are plump and juicy and really add to the overall cake by providing a contrasting chewy texture. They develop a delicious sticky top after a day or so and soften slightly around the edges, really, really good. So successful in fact that I have made second and third batches for myself already. In the second batch I added about 50g dark chocolate, and this was one of those occasions were the chocolate was an intrusion, unwarranted and detracted from the deliciousness of the cakes as they were. Needless to say, the third batch didn't contain chocolate and was much the better for it.