How do you like to eat bananas - some people will only eat them when they are yellow but still very firm, whereas others like them when they are very ripe with black skin. The black skin might look as if the banana has gone bad, but it is fine as long as the fruit was not bruised to start with. Peel off the black skin, and the flesh will still be firm, creamy and ripe and also amazingly fragrant.
One of my favorite things to bake with really ripe fruit is banana bread-style cake, such as Nigel Slater`s Black Banana Cake (here) - this recipe calls for really ripe fruits, hence the name of the cake. It seems that there are basically two kinds – either the dark, dense, sticky variety (usually a so-called banana bread) or the lighter cake-type loaf. The recipe in my post today is more of the latter sort, and makes a great teatime treat or accompaniment to an afternoon cup of coffee. It can be made in a loaf pan or a retangular cake pan, like your good old brownie cake pan, and although you could add all kinds of extras to a banana cake (like chocolate chips, chopped pecans, walnuts, or raisins), I only like to add some pure vanilla and a hint of cinnamon.
Once thing that is noteworthy about this recipe is the fact that ripeness doesn’t really matter for this particular cake. The common belief that bananas for baking should always be soft and freckled with brown spot does not apply to all baking recipes calling for bananas. This cake differs from the usual in that it is light, and most definitely banana cake, not banana bread.
Banana Cake with Oat & Spelt Flour
- 375g bananas (peeled weight) - about 4 medium sized bananas
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 100g white spelt flour
- 100g oat flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I like to use Ceylon cinnamon)
- 2 tps baking powder
- a pinch fine salt
- 180g superfine (baking) sugar
- 8g vanilla sugar
- 2 eggs (M), free range or oragnic
- 4 tbsps sunflower or vegetable oil
- 2 bananas
- 2 tbsps natural raw cane sugar
- some powdered sugar (aka confectioners' sugar or icing sugar) for the finished cake (optional but pretty)
- Set the oven at 170C°.
- Line a square 20cm baking pan with baking parchment.
- Break the bananas into chunks, then put them into a bowl and mash roughly with a fork and stir in the lemon juice. NOTE: avoid the temptation to turn them into a purée, chunky is what you are looking for.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
- Put the sugar and vanilla sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Break the eggs into the sugar, then beat, using the whisk attachment, for three to four minutes, until light and creamy.
- Pour in the oil, slowly, with the mixer on a moderate speed.
- Fold the flour and baking powder into the mixture.
- Fold in the crushed bananas, briefly, taking care to distribute them evenly but without crushing them any further.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake pan and even out the mixture.
- Peel the two bananas, slice horizontally and place the four banana halves on top of the cake.
- Sprinkle the surface with the sugar.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until lightly firm on top.
- Remove the cake from the oven and leave to settle, in the cake pan, on a wire rack, for about 30 minutes.
- Lift the cake from the pan, then place back onto the rack and leave to cool completely.
- Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. NOTE: Although this cake is best eatenthe day it is made, it will keep for up to two days, covered well and kept in a cool spot.
Apart form the fact that you do not have to wait for those bananas to turn from a lovely yellow color to an ash like black color, what I love most about this recipe is that it calls for oat flour and white spelt flour - whenever possible I try to bake with different types of flour. As I love the taste of oats, always have, always will, I often replace part of the regular flour with oat flour, especially when the cake batter has a high moisture content.
It is so nice to see that spring has finally arrived around here. So, enjoy your cake in the afternoon or morning sunshine, if at all possible.