I once watched a documentary where some of the former chefs at Noma (the restaurant in Denmark that will set you back about £500 for lunch) talked about their current passions. One woman explained that bananas, rather than going off, were merely ripening further as their skins turned black - and were therefore perfect for use in desserts.
It's something New Zealanders have known for decades. We make banana cake.
The best banana cake I ever tasted was made by Lynette Moss, singer for The Wallsockets, shortly before Fran (one of their two guitarists) and I left for the UK together.
If you've been following my baking exploits, you'll want to know how this one went wrong. I'll explain each misstep in the method.
Makes 8 large slices, but can serve up to 12.
For the sponges:
125g butter at room temperature
2 overly ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons boiling milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
225g plain flour
For the filling:
200mls double cream, whipped
1 perfectly ripe banana, thinly sliced
icing sugar for dusting
The state of your bananas: ideally you want two that are overripe for the sponge and one that is perfectly ripe for the filling.
Grease and lightly flour 2 cake tins.
Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the eggs.
Mash the 2 overripe bananas then beat them into the mixture.
Imagine my horror when I saw my beautifully creamed butter curdle!
Interestingly, my mistake here was to panic. I haven't made a banana cake in decades, and I'd quite forgotten that this happens.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan till it boils. Add the baking soda and it should foam up.
Mix the flour and the baking powder and sift it into the mixture.
Stir in/beat until it forms a good cake batter.
Divide the batter equally between your two tins and smooth down the tops.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 20 minutes, or until a sharp knife or skewer comes out clean when inserted near the centre.
Do not overcook or give them a couple of extra minutes (like I did). The result is not as moist.
Remove the tins from the oven and let them stand for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a knife, removing the sponges, and placing them to cool on a cooling rack - the OTHER side up, not the one you see in my photograph.
Let them cool completely before filling.
Beat your cream till it is part way between the soft-peak/firm-peak stage. Do not beat it till it's practically butter (like I did).
Invert one of the sponges and spread it with the whipped cream.
Slice the banana thinly and evenly over the cream.
Top with the second sponge and give it a dusting of icing sugar through the mesh of a sieve.
Any questions? You can use the comments form at the bottom of the page.
Did you know?
You'll find recipes at the back of all the books in the Send for Octavius Guy series: