There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell!
Thorin Oakenshield (from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit)
I know that these past few days have been all about Writing 101 and today is no different, but I wanted to combine three things at once. I know you won’t mind, mainly because there’s a recipe at the end. You have all been so good. Even though many of you come here for the food and photos, you have been so positive and supportive of my other non-foodie ones. I’m thankful. Truly. On to the quote.
I have been going through pages and pages of quotations this afternoon, but none of them quite struck me as the one above. I told J I found a food one by Tolkien (you see, he’s the real J.R.R.T. expert in this house), I wanted to know the back story. Although I did read The Hobbit and saw the movies, I really don’t remember much of the story. I prefer LOTR any day. But what Thorin said struck a chord with me, especially during this period in my life. I won’t go into great detail, (if I did you will probably finish reading this by next week) but Thorin’s statement here was one of reconciliation. He wanted to make peace with Bilbo before passing away. They had a major dispute about the Arkenstone, a family heirloom. In my eyes, Bilbo and Thorin’s friendship was something special. There was a bond there and the kind hobbit was devastated by the loss of the dwarf king.
Real friendship is a subject that has been on my mind for this past year. Not that it hasn’t been before, because there was a time a few years back when I felt I lost four important people in my life. I have a rough idea why this happened but there was nothing concrete to pinpoint. In time I just accepted it and tried to move on. On the way, I found people with whom I clicked. Just like that. There was no hesitation, no analysing as in seeing what-we-will-gain-from-this type of thing, no dissection, no deconstruction. I just hate that. It was just we-get-on-and-like-to-chat and let’s meet up for coffee and cake. Done. Thankfully I am reconnecting with people, some old friends whom I haven’t met at all during the years in England, not even when I was here for a visit. But we have kept in contact anyway and things are moving. It’s been good.
Now what does this have to do with the recipe featured here. In my eyes, plenty and that I will explain. If you have been reading C&T for a while, you will know that I like simple recipes, preferably to be shared with friends or family. I don’t like eating alone. One of the best meals I ever had was this summer, with two of my dearest friends from secondary school. We exchanged ideas and talked about things that matter. We also had a quite a few laughs of course, because laughing is also food for the soul.
So this, my friends, is an example one of the most comforting cakes around. There are no exotic ingredients, nothing that cannot be sourced easily. I love recipes which don’t necessarily make you go to a speciality shop. It’s no faff, no nonsense baking. Not to worry though, if you prefer a gluten-free option, I have another beautiful cake for you right here. Sometimes I prefer anything GF myself. There are good recipes out there for anyone to try. Go ahead, make this, and invite your favourite people over. If not now, perhaps in a few more weeks. When the days get cooler. Here’s hoping! Give me a shout, as always, if you do.
- 100g walnuts, shell removed, toasted and chopped
- 500g very ripe bananas, peeled
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 125g soft light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 200g cake flour
- 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 170°C or 150°C fan (Gas Mark 3-4) and grease and line a 900g loaf tin with parchment paper.
Toast the walnuts in a small shallow pan on low heat, for around 5 minutes, until they turn golden brown. Keep and eye on them, because they will be done in no time. When the walnuts are toasted, remove them from the heat and set them aside until they cool a little. Roughly chop.
Cut and mash the bananas in a bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the soft butter and sugar until the mixture turns a pale yellow. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Tip in the mashed bananas and chopped walnuts.
Place a sieve on top of the bowl and tip in the flour, baking powder and ground cinnamon, and sift these into the banana batter.
Transfer the cake batter into the greased and lined loaf tin and bake for around 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is done in the centre. Insert a knife or skewer to be sure.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for around 10 to 15 minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Take a slice and enjoy it with your friends. It’s a perfect addition to your autumn afternoon tea gig.
(Recipe slightly adapted from Jamie’s Great Britain, Michael Joseph, 2011.)