Having just returned home from a routine dentist appointment, I thought there was no better time to complete today’s post! This has been sitting around here since last Friday but I couldn’t complete it in time. Today, after having recuperated some much-needed sleep throughout the night, I can say that it’s the first time in a month I feel rested. The sciatica pain is slowly dying down and telling you that I am relieved is definitely an understatement. Cheers to that.
I like to try two similar recipes using one base ingredient and compare tastes and textures. The reason is simple really: this happens because usually I have one ingredient I buy too much of. The idea for the cake in the previous post and this one here came from having a couple of unused fruit lying around.
The following is taken from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which as I think I have said before, it is a must for all home bakers to have. But I will not go into that again, don’t worry! What I will tell you now is that on page 33 there’s a recipe for Banana Bread. Nigella has adapted it from Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book: Recipes from an American Childhood and it’s very similar to the first banana loaf recipe I wrote about. There’s some alcohol in it in the form of bourbon or dark rum as she suggests. I had neither on hand so I used some brandy. It is simple, delicious and ideal for sharing. You will end up with a heavier cake but adding the alcohol plumps up the sultanas and makes them tastier. You will need:
- 100g sultanas
- 75ml bourbon or dark rum (or brandy)
- 175g plain flour
- 2 teaspooons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 150g caster sugar or soft brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- Around 300g (without the skin) very ripe bananas, mashed
- 60g pecans or walnuts, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the sultanas and the alcohol in a small pan over the heat. As soon as it starts to boil, remove from the heat and let it soak for around an hour or until the sultanas have absorbed most of the alcohol. Drain using a sieve.
- In the meantime preheat the oven to 170ºC/338ºF/Gas Mark 3 and grease and line a loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7cm).
- In a medium-sized bowl put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and stir everything together well.
- Now mix the melted butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk together; then add the eggs one at a time and continue whisking.
- Add the mashed bananas, walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract. Mix lightly and start pouring the flour mixture slowly. Add half and beat, then add the other half and beat again.
- Pour the completed cake batter into your loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for around 1 to 1¼ hours, always keeping an eye on it. When ready the skewer or knife used to check it shouldn’t come out clean because you want a gooey cake. Don’t worry because the cake will continue to cook when you take it out of the oven while cooling. Leave to cool for a while in the tin, then take it out on a rack. If you line the cake with overlapping baking paper (see my lemon cake from a while back) handling it will be super easy.
Nigella’s variation of this cake, which I still have to try would be to replace 25g of the plain flour with good quality cocoa powder and adding 100g of dark chocolate chunks or chocolate chips. I’m sure I will like it!