Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Going All Bananarama - Caribbean Spiced Banana Cake

When you're baking and blogging about baking you tend to spend some time reading other people's blogs and chatting together about your quest for crumbly cake perfection.  In the last couple of months since starting this blog I have already been lucky enough to stumble across some incredibly talented and lovely people.  I have a large number of recipes that I want to make already so when I'm reading other people's blogs I'm usually just enjoying being part of this circle and having contact with others with a shared interest, rather than looking for inspiration of things to make.

Every now and again though I come across a recipe that I just have to try and that was the case when I found this recipe for Caribbean Banana Cake on Pip & Little Blue's blog.  I adore banana cake and the addition of spice and rum to the mix sounded heavenly to me.  Like a holiday in a loaf tin!

I started by creaming together the butter and light brown sugar using my trusty hand mixer, making it whiz very fast until the mixture was very light and fluffy.  It's always worth spending a bit longer on this than just combining them as it does make your cake lighter.  I find brown sugar tends to lump slightly more than white too, so extra whizzing is a good plan.  Besides it's just so satisfying.

butter and sugar creamed butter and sugar

I made a tiny deviation from the instructions next as I added the eggs, ricotta cheese, vanilla and rum (but not the banana) and gave them another good whizzing so that everything was very well combined.  I don't like stirring gently when there are eggs involved, I doubt it matters, it's just a personal thing, but I didn't want the banana to be in the bowl when I was still pulverising things with my hand mixer.  Once this was done I had a very sticky, gloopy mixture which although it didn't look very appetising I thought had a certain charm.

butter sugar and wet ingredients butter sugar and wet ingredients

Next I took my bananas and mashed them up in a separate bowl, leaving a few lumpy bits as suggested in the instructions.  I added these to my gloopy mixture and stirred them in, giving an even lumpier texture than before.  No one said making banana cake was pretty!

mashed banana banana loaf wet mix

I added the flour, cinnamon, some ground hazelnuts and forgot the salt, ah well.  I stirred it all together until just combined so that there were no bits of flour lurking at the bottom.  There almost always is some when you think you're done, so make sure you get right to the bottom of the bowl with your spoon.  I like a silicon spoon for this as they're so good for scraping bowls.

banana loaf dry ingredients
I tend to be pretty lazy when it comes to lining tins but I did make a half hearted attempt for this loaf.  I cut a piece of baking paper and put it in my loaf tin so that it hung over the long sides, although I didn't worry as much about the short sides being covered.  I always use non stick baking tins and their brilliance usually compensates for my laziness pretty well.  The overhang on the long sides I figured would make an excellent handle to assist in lifting the cake out of the tin.

banana loaf in tin
I spooned my lovely mixture into the loaf tin and it filled it pretty full, perhaps a little more than I was expecting!  It's a denser cake though banana cake, so it doesn't rise in the same way as say a Victoria sponge so I wasn't worried about having a big overspilling mess on the bottom of my oven or anything like that.  I put the cake in the pre-heated oven and sat down for a nice cup of tea whilst it was baking and filling the house with divine banana aromas.  Loaf cakes take a while (an hour in this case) so I may even have tidied up a bit too.

I've got pretty good lately at setting alarms for cakes instead of relying on my brain to remember at what time I put them in and therefore what time to get them out.  It must be my age or something but I'm just useless at remembering what time something went it, I look at the clock, go right 11.47 or whatever and then that's it.  Instantly forgotten.  No clue at all.  Happily a mobile phone countdown function has no such issues so after an hour my phone beeped merrily at me and I checked the cake.

Caribbean Spiced Banana Loaf Cake

Initially I was a little worried it was burnt as the top had gone so brown but when I checked it the cake inside was clearly just right.  This point is mentioned in the instructions with a tip to cover loosely in foil if you think it's going too brown on top but next time I think I will probably reduce the temperature from 200°C to 180°C.  Everyone's oven is different of course and I think mine (a fan oven) is more consistent at 180°C.

I could barely wait for the cake to cool enough to try some, it just smelt so good and I wanted to slice it up and get scoffing.  My baking paper overhang worked perfectly getting the cake out of the tin so I left it on a wire rack for a while to make it less likely to burn my mouth - hot banana is mega hot you know!

Caribbean Spiced Banana Loaf Cake

Oh boy it was worth the wait.  This cake is GORGEOUS.  It was definitely the most moist banana cake I've ever made and it lasted well.  My parents helped to eat it and were hugely complimentary, my Mum has been told she has to make one when she gets home ha ha.  Next time I will make a couple of very minor tweaks as I couldn't really taste the spice or the rum.  I'll add more spice - more cinnamon and add nutmeg as well.  I'll also make sure to use dark rum - I think white rum gets a tiny bit lost, this was all I had in the cupboard at the time but it will be worth making sure I've got dark for this recipe.  Otherwise it's just all kinds of awesome and makes a nice change from all the chocolate and caramel I've been making lately.

Caribbean Spiced Banana Loaf Cake

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