JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Banana cake for Alfred's birthday

This is the cake Alfred asks for every year ... it's a really simple, quick banana loaf, absolutely his favourite. I've tried other, richer, recipes, but none of them is as popular as this. It was given to me by my friend Clare Pelling, after she brought one for a tea party here (probably before Alfred was born). I call it Clare's banana cake; Clare calls it Jane's banana bread.

This recipe is so ancient that it's in imperial, the last unconverted recipe I use (just as well I've got scales which do both). I think that the original idea was to use a pound unpeeled weight of bananas, but I've always taken it to mean the peeled weight, with the result that this tastes very banana-ry. And I use homemade vanilla essence.

Alfred's banana cake

1 1/2 oz Flora
6 oz light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 lb bananas
6 oz self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Turn the oven on to 180C. Line a large loaf tin. Mix the Flora with the sugar, add the eggs and vanilla essence. Add the flour and bicarb, then the bananas - I put them in whole and let my Kenwood do the work (which saves washing up, too). Sometimes I mix them very smooth, although my children like it best if I leave a few lumps of banana to discover, oozing, in the finished cake.

Pour into the tin, and bake for up to an hour. I start checking after 45 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin. Keeps well; freezes well. Popular at cricket tea.

Links to related posts

Vanilla extract
Nigella's banana cake
Healthy banoffee pie

Links to banana cakes on other blogs

Nupur's peanut butter banana bread for Heart of the Matter
David Lebovitz's banana cake and banana loaf
Marbled banana cake from Baking Bites


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh the history that lies in 'I call it Clare's banana cake; Clare calls it Jane's banana bread.' and all the story that is winds around that. I always add extra banana in mine too. Wonderful cake.

gillie said...

We ALWAYS have past their best bananas (something along the lines of the pelican whose beak can hold more than its belly can, we always over buy bananas and underbuy/grow apples). I also love your vanilla essence "recipe", a recent (ish) trip to Guadeloupe means we have more vanilla than you can shake a pod at and the family will be delighted to discover that they don't have to meet stray pods in the sugar cannisters anymore as they will have all been put to good use in the great essence escapade! It is too late to start baking tonight (well only just) but perhaps this weekend I might be able to put those slightly dodgy bananas to good use at last!

Joanna said...

Yes, Tanna, you're right ... I don't know Jane, but I bless her recipe whenever I use it, and think of Clare, who I don't see often enough these days.

And, Gillie, you'll find the vanilla essence a perpetual excuse to buy the best vanilla pods you can find. I still put some in the caster sugar, I'm far too old a dog to break the habits of a lifetime just because I've got a new way of doing things ;)


Anna said...

My husband hates sugar with vanilla pods in it, but that's where they live! He won't learn.

How did the Nigella version compare with this recipe, Joanna? I think I'll try yours first; we enjoyed a banana cake recently from a blog - with dark chocolate folded through it - and it kept amazingly well, which is a very useful property when there are only two of you. I don't have an excuse to make this yet (like you, have really ruled out cakes apart from visitors or holidays) but I'll be back for it....

Joanna said...

Anna, the Nigella cake is good, but has more fat in it, so I've gone back to the more familiar charms of Clare's recipe ... and it's just as good. You could add sultanas to this, or chocolate. But I like that it's quite low-fat for a cake

Thanks for kind words. And, yes, in this house the vanilla pods live in the sugar, because I'm very apt to forget to put in the vanilla extract. Vanilla tea, anyone?


Michele said...

I'd love to try your banana cake recipe. Here in the US I don't remember an ingredient called "Flora." Would someone enlighten me!! Thanks.

Joanna said...

Flora is the trade name for soft heart-healthy margarine - any would do, or butter, but we don't do butter in this house any more ...