Saturday 23 May 2009

Butterscotch banana cake

I am still here, I promise, it's just that work has been getting in the way of food recently - always annoying. I was at a conference last week and nothing foodie to report, except that we went to Sapporo Tepanyaki for dinner one evening, which was interesting and exciting!

I've been baking, but nothing new recently - I met up with friends in London a week ago, and took this chocolate orange and vanilla marble cake, which went down well. However, it was quite heavy lugging it around London all day, especially as we were meeting at Westminster and the District and Circle lines and Jubilee line were closed - walk from Victoria anyone??? Anyway, it was a lovely day, with a lovely pic nic, even if it did try to rain on us!

So here's one I made earlier. Butterscotch banana cake. I've had my eye on this one for a while. Eventually I'll work my way through all of the recipes in the rather excellent guide to baking given away with the Guardian in November 2007, it's just that I'm a little slow to get round to some of them. I like banana cake, not just because it allows me to use up fruit that has gone beyond all hope of eating raw (more ideas here), but because it generally just tastes great!

This one particularly appealed because it consists of caramelizing the bananas first in yummy sugar before proceeding to the recipe. Sounded interesting so with the correct ingredients located I proceeded. Sadly not without hitches, but I'll come to that later. You can find the original recipe here. I have made a few minor alterations - I used some granulated sugar, didn't have quite as much banana flesh as specified and missed out the spices. I wanted naked banana flavour.

Butterscotch banana cake
150g white granulated sugar
100g caster sugar
200g banana flesh, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
175ml sunflower oil
2 large eggs
150g plain flour
75g wholemeal flour
2 level tsp baking powder
½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda
50ml plain yoghurt

- Butter a 22-23cm round tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
- Tip 150g of the caster sugar into a frying pan with 25ml water, bring to the boil, then cook over a high heat until the sugar turns to a dark reddish caramel.
- Add the banana pieces, butter and vanilla, and simmer until the bananas break up in the caramel and the mixture is thick.
- Spoon on to a plate and leave to cool.
- Beat the remaining 100g sugar with the oil and eggs until thick and slightly aerated, then beat in the bananas and the yoghurt.
- Sift the flours, baking powder and soda together two or three times (throwing the bran back in), then fold this through the banana mixture.
- Spoon the mixture into the tin, heat the oven to Gas 5/180C (160C fan-assisted) and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Notes: I preheated my oven first of all. I don't really understand why the instructions are given like that, and I didn't really notice because the first thing I do is preheat the oven. Ooops. I'm sure Dan has a good reason.

Caramel. Now the first time I ever tried a caramel (not for this!) it worked. I think this was pure beginners luck. Not so here. The first time, I followed the recipe as specified (my frying pan is non-stick) and ended up with a sort of lump of solid yet spitting sugar. This is bad. I didn't want to ramp up the heat any more for fear of destroying my frying pan. I need that pan, it's used almost daily!!! Second time I tried again but in a normal (i.e. not non-stick) metal pan. Same results. After much agonising and asking J's advice (and reading the post by Zeb in this very helpful thread on Dan's forum message board) I decided to use granulated sugar and no water to start with. This worked fine, and first time. When the caramel was the colour I wanted, I added the water, which hissed and spat and solidified the caramel but it all then came back fine. I added the banana and proceeded. You can see the banana in the picture below. Yum!

Caramelising the bananas in the sugar smelled so delicious I was tempted to forget about making the cake altogether and just sit down, me and the pan of luscious caramelly bananas and eat.... mmmmm, sweet, sweet bananas!!!

I found that the cake sank very slightly in the middle - you can't really tell from this picture though, and it didn't seem to affect the texture of the cake either so it didn't really matter.

My colleagues loved this cake. I can understand why - it was very banana-ry and very moist without being at all dense or heavy - it really is a very light cake as Dan promises. However, my only reservation was that to me it tasted a little oily. Perhaps this is necessary as the cake is so moist and it may just be my perception, because no-one else had a problem with that at all. It's very different to a standard banana loaf type cake, and definitely worth trying, but it's not one I'll keep coming back to over and over again.

You can see just how moist and light the cake is, and the colour truly is yummy.


The Caked Crusader said...

I love banana cake too - and often find that very moist cakes like this sink a little on coming out of the oven.
Glad to hear you overcame your problem with the caramel

Katie said...

Sounds wonderful. Bananas and butterscotch are the perfect pairing

♥Rosie♥ said...

Oh this butterscotch banana cake sounds absolutely gorgeous! I am always on the look out for new banana cake/bread recipes.

job new Zealand said...

This is soo tummy tempting :)

Maggie said...

This is a very interesting recipe and the banana cake looks superb.

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

I am going to try this! It looks so good, much better than a plain banana cake.

Johanna GGG said...

what a great idea for a banana cake and your notes about doing the caramelising are v useful - it is not somthing I am used to doing - it is on my list of cakes to try (but like you it can take me some time)

Nic said...

I'm adding this to my (very)long list of recipes to try! Looks brilliant!


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