Best banana cake

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If you want a cake that tastes strongly of natural banana flavour then this is the cake.  It’s supercharged with banana flavour.  The texture is cake-like, moist but at the same time soft.  Some banana cakes have a chewy slightly rubbery texture but this is not one of those.

I’m not one for adding extra steps in a process but here it’s necessary to add the concentrated flavour of banana.  Most banana cakes have 3 bananas and 2 eggs but this cake ups the number of bananas to five for the extra flavour.  With the extra fruit brings the problem of having too much moisture in a cake making the texture rubbery.  It was someone at America’s Test Kitchen that came up with the genius idea of dehydrating the bananas first in order to concentrate its flavour.  I followed their method with the bananas here but the cake recipe is my own.  I often make this cake dairy-free using dairy-free margarine.

The soft crumbly texture of this cake is still very moist.  If you wanted to make a frosting I can imagine whipped cream mixed with some dulce de leche would be perfect.

The secret to the success of this supercharged banana flavour is two fold, the over-ripeness of the fruit and then dehydrating them.

The bananas have to be far far more over-ripe than normally used in a cake.  It’s not enough for them to be speckled they have to be so over-ripe they’re attracting fruit flies!  According to America’s Test Kitchen research this is because merely speckled bananas will contain 1.8% fructose but very brown blotchy bananas will contain 5.3% fructose and this difference in sugar content will make all the difference in the intensity of the flavour.

To make the banana cake

First need to dehydrate the bananas by placing them in a bowl cover with clingfilm and put them in the microwave for 4-5 minutes.  The microwave is crucial as it will cook from the inside out releasing the water content of the banana without destroying the fruit.

You want the bananas to release their water…

…like so.

Sieve the bananas, pressing down to get all the water from the solids.  Put the water in a large pan.

Boil the water for 3-5 minutes until it’s reduced by at least half the amount possibly more.  You want to end up with a thick syrupy mixture.

Below is the difference between banana water on the left when it comes out of the fruit and on the right once it has been reduced to its thicker consistency.

Add the banana syrup back to the bananas.  The point in reducing the water is to concentrate the flavour and also to reduce the amount of liquid so not make the cake mixture too wet.

Break the banana with a potato masher to cut through the long strands still holding the banana pulp together.

Now cream the butter (or dairy-free margarine) and sugar together.

In a little bowl break the eggs up with a fork for about 20 seconds to loosen them.  Add the eggs to the banana…

…and then add it to the butter and sugar mixture.

It doesn’t matter much which way around you add the ingredients so long as you leave the flour until last.  Add the flour and baking powder.

Mix it well together.

Drop into the prepared lined cake tin.

Copying America’s Test Kitchen idea of having one banana to decorate.  Sprinkle the banana slices with lemon juice to stop discolouration.  Don’t put the slices in the middle in order to let the cake rise properly.

Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar.

Bake for 50mins – 1 hr.

For the chocolate chip version, add 100g of your favourite eating chocolate.

I found these individual loaf cases in Lakeland.

Fill them two thirds full, sprinkle with sugar.

Give them enough room between each other in order to bake more evenly.

 

Best banana cake
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Line 20 cm (8 inch) cake tin with baking paper both bottom and sides. Pre-heat oven to 160˚C fan / 180˚C.
Ingredients
  • 5 medium-large seriously over-ripe bananas with large blotches of brown patches on them. Peeled weight around 500g
  • 1 banana for decorating
  • lemon juice from half lemon to sprinkle over decorative banana
  • 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten with a fork for 20 seconds
  • 150g light muscovado sugar (can use white sugar)
  • 125g butter room temperature (or dairy-free margarine) don't skimp on the fat it needs it for soft crumb
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 275g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
Instructions
To prepare the bananas
  1. Put the very over-ripe bananas in a large bowl, cover with clingfilm, make a hole in the plastic and put it in the microwave for 4-5 minutes. The bananas should have released lots of water and look pretty awful.
  2. Sieve the water into a large pan, press down well on the pulp of the bananas to get rid of all their water.
  3. Heat the pan over a medium heat let it come to boil and reduce the liquid down to roughly half until it's thick and syrup looking and has changed colour. You may end up with a ¼ cup or less of liquid.
  4. Pour the reduced liquid back with the banana pulp and mash everything with a potato masher to break up the fibres in the bananas.
For the cake
  1. Cream the soft butter or margarine with the sugar until well mixed.
  2. Add the beaten eggs, banana mixture, vanilla extract to the creamed butter and sugar mixture and lastly add in the flour and baking powder.
  3. Mix well until all blended nicely. If adding chocolate chips add them now.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin level it and decorate with slices of one banana around the edge of the cake. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top.
  5. Bake for 50mins to 1 hour. The small cakes will take 25-30 mins. Once out of oven leave in the tin for 5 mins before turning out and cooling on a wire rack.