Banana & Chocolate Cake
We've all had banana cake right? Banana cake is ok, especially, like me, if you're not THAT keen on bananas (Personally, I can't stand them on their own, only sliced up on cereal etc). So what makes this banana cake so special? What males it special is the amount of people that don't like banana cake, that LOVE this cake. I even have a friend who doesn't like cake and she LOVES this cake. I often make one just for her. I have taken it into work and made it for groups of people and I have been asked for the recipe every single time.
The Bananas - The blacker, the better. If you want a short-cut, you can freeze bananas in their skins and take them out the day you want to use them. Handling black bananas is always a bit messy but they become incredibly sweet.
The Hazlenuts - No, it doesn't have to be hazelnuts BUT I urge you to use them if you can and yes, they need to be toasted. I have tried this with other nuts and it's just not the same. Roasted hazelnuts are often used in chocolate and praline because they have such a nutty flavour. Toasting them really brings out their flavour too. Believe me, I am not in the job of doing anything that unnecessarily lengthens any task. Let me know if you try something else and it works.
The Cinamon - My version has cinamon in it for 3 reasons. It works really well with bananas. I'm yet to find anything with bananas in that cinamon doesn't improve. It works really well in most cakes but especially ones with nuts in. Last but not least, I love the stuff and use it as often as possible. You could leave it out however, if you're not so keen.
I have made this cake many, many times and
The Chocolate - I do recommend dark chocolate for this cake. Yes, you could use milk chocolate if you're really not a fan but the bananas and brown sugar make the cake quite sweet anyway and the slight bitterness of dark chocolate off-sets it nicely. Milk chocolate will make it slightly more sickly. You can use chips but i prefer chunks.
There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about this cake. It has no beauty to speak of or presentation that can be stowed upon it to make it look prettier than it is but believe me, when you smell it cooking, you know deep in your sole, in that way that you know when you fall in love, that it is going to be good, really good.
The hardest decision is whether to eat it out of the oven, while it is still warm and the chocolate is still gooey and oozing or whether to let it cool and have that bite when the chocolate hardens. My opinion, have both!
The recipe is adapted from Nigel Slaters one, found here: - http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/black_banana_cake_52982
90g Muscavado Sugar
90g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs, Beaten
175g Self-Raising Flour
2 Very Ripe Bananas, mashed
Drop of Vanilla Extract
175g Chocolate, chopped or chips
2 Tsps Cinamon
Pre-heat the oven to 170c/325f/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a loaf tin. In a separate tin, toast the hazelnuts until lightly brown. This usually takes 5-10 minutes but watch them carefully as they burn easily and will become bitter. Leave them to cool and then whiz them up as finely as you can. I find a mini chopper perfect for this.
Cream the butter and the sugars together until pale and fluffy. Slowly add the egg mixture, a little at a time, beating after each addition. Then add in your flour, 1 tsp cinamon, nuts and mashed bananas.
Fold in the chocolate and vanilla and pour the mixture into the loaf tin. Sprinkle generously with demerara sugar and the other tsp of cinamon.
Put the cake in the oven for 1 hour - 1 hour and 10 minutes. Test with a skewer until it comes out clean.
I check after about 40 minutes and if it is browning to quickly, lay a piece of foil over the top of the cake but don't scrunch it over the whole cake.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack.