Beat the Sunday blues banana cake
I am so bloody wasteful, I think to myself as I purge the fridge of green powdery oranges and four-month-old rotten carrots which appear to be responsible for the pools of brown liquid currently residing in the drawer. I glance despondently at two sad looking soft bananas sitting in the fruit bowl and feel a pang of yuppie guilt. I must stop throwing food away.
It's Sunday night and I feel blue. It's cold, it's grey, Christmas is a faded memory. Discarded trees litter the pavements and life seems a little bit drab. I look at the fruit, and see an opportunity to redeem myself. I decide to make a banana cake. I think we can all agree, Sunday nights can be miserable. But baking a banana cake is not. It's difficult to be gloomy when you're whipping up a batter or pouring the thick gloopy golden mixture into a tin or when the sweet sugary smell begins to waft through the house.
I am THRILLED with the way this recipe has turned out, I eat it as a Sunday evening snack, or for breakfast during the week. And the great thing is it's totally negotiable - if you want to make it more indulgent – use flour, butter, sugar and chocolate chunks (chunks are better than chips FYI) then serve warm with vanilla ice-cream. If you're feeling more virtuous – use olive oil, ground almonds, walnuts and dollop on a spoonful of Greek yogurt to finish. Baking this cake has become my end-of-weekend ritual.
3 very ripe bananas
2 organic eggs
50g olive oil
130g ground almonds (for the virtuous) OR 125g flour (for the less so)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 level tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla essence
Handful of raisins/sultanas/chocolate chunks/whatever you have in the cupboard
Handful of chopped walnuts
A couple of spoonfuls of honey or agave or maple syrup
1. Before you do ANYTHING else. Pre-heat the oven. Make sure you turn both dials. I always forget there are two. Is there anything more disappointing then rushing home, the one thing you want in the world - a crispy skinned jacket potato slathered in butter. You stab the spud, whack it in, spend 45 minutes salivating at the thought - before opening the door and discovering it cold, hard, completely uncooked and the oven not turned on. Save yourself the emotional turmoil and turn the dial, BOTH DIALS, before you begin. 180 degrees.
2. Line a rectangular tin with grease-proof paper. There is something satisfying in getting all the boring but essential jobs out of the way first and then having all the good fun stuff to look forward to. I feel now would be the appropriate moment for me to say thank you to the inventor of grease-proof paper for inventing grease-proof paper. Thank you, inventor of grease-proof paper. Greasing up a tray with butter alone might work for some people, but none of those people are me. The number of times I've wept over cakes stuck to the bottom of the sodding tin due to a lack of grease-proof paper. How important can it be? I'd ask myself. Very, it turns out.
3. Good, that's all the admin out of the way. Let the baking begin. Start by mashing your bananas into a pulp with a fork, then beat in your eggs. Add the olive oil/butter and vanilla essence.
4. Weigh your flour in a large mixing bowl and add the baking powder and cinnamon. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and fold.
5. Chop your walnuts. Fortuitously I happened to have some at the back of the cupboard the first time I made this, and now the cake doesn't seem right without them. Keep quite chunky for good crunch. Add to your mix along with any raisins/chocolate chunks you might have lurking in the cupboard. Your cake mix should be quite thick, so these morsels should remain evenly distributed throughout. But, you know, lots of things that should happen don't end up happening. So, don't get your knickers in a knot if they all sink to the bottom. Paul Hollywood never has to know.
6. Pour the mix into you pre-greased tin (thanks past-self for greasing the tin in advance). Whack it in. It should take around 40 minutes to cook. But, as I said, should doesn't always mean will. Keep an eye on it. But don't worry if it burns, it will still taste delicious.
7. Remove from tin. Appreciate how easy removal is with the aid of god sent grease-proof paper. Cool for five minutes, how could I possibly expect you to wait any longer than that? Cut yourself a generous slice. Maybe one for your housemate too. Enjoyment shared is enjoyment doubled. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or, if you're feeling daring - chocolate. Consume whilst watching a feel-good film. Not Schindler's List, whatever you do, please not Schindlers List. Go back for a second portion. Sunday nights aren't so bad after all.