Thursday, 8 December 2011
When I popped out to Switzerland for five days a week or so ago, my mum made me some chocolate banana bread. It was an unusual choice as I don't like banana bread.
Or perhaps I should say I didn't like banana bread. As she knew, this recipe is a game changer.
My mum and I differ in our attitude to recipes. Take this one, for instance. One day she decided to double the banana as well as adapt the chocolate. Things are weighed, but in a much more dash & splash & heaped spoon manner. I adapt recipes all the time too, but I'm very methodical and always measure and record my changes carefully.
But you know what? This banana bread is fantastic. So here's to mum and her courage to just go out there and double ingredients without a thought to ratios and percentages.
Before I left, I carefully wrote down the changed recipe into my notebook so that I could make it when I got home.
Imagine my horror when I opened the cupboard to make the cake today and discovered that I'd left my home scales in my knife kit at school - I'd taken them in as a spare set for my exam. Bake without scales?! Not be able to measure everything exactly to the gram? Dear me.
But my hunger for warm, comforting banana bread won out. So I eyed 100g out of my 250g pack of butter, I used my tablespoon to measure out the flour and sugar. I went with the flow.
Heck, if mum can double an ingredient and it tastes better, I can be a few grams out today. A little break from precision.
As the cake went into the oven, it started to get dark. I'd forgotten how quickly the light drains out of the sky at the moment and soon it was far beyond the point of photography. So I sat on the floor and wistfully watched my cake bake through the glass door. I love watching things slowly rise, bubble and change - it's very calming.
I decided to try and take a photo, not expecting anything. And yet I really like the photos I took. (Here's a slightly more traditional snap of the one my mum made too). I love the suspense during the lingering wait as something bakes, the intoxicating smell. That's one of the best bits about baking and that's what I have tried to capture.
Chocolate Chunk Banana Cake
(adapted from Ultimate by Green & Blacks)
225g plain flour
1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
100g butter at room temperature
150g caster sugar
4 small very ripe bananas (or 2 large, 3 medium etc)
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp milk
100g dark chocolate - 70% to 85%, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Mash the bananas up into a puree with a fork. Add the eggs, bananas and milk to the butter/sugar mixture and beat until uniform. It will curdle and look horrid but don't worry. Fold the flour into the batter. Fold in half the chocolate then transfer to the tin.
Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate over the top then press in lightly. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until a skewer comes out without any cake mix (will probably have a bit of melted chocolate!).
(Makes one loaf)