Sunday, 9 October 2011

Banana and pecan loaf cake with toffee icing

After three months at grandmas I can't tell you how many cakes I encountered. Every day I'd return home and there'd be at least one new cake to eat. Sometimes more than one. One day when rooting around in the 'naughty cupboard' I found six cakes. I'm not kidding - six. 

It's a good job I don't really like sweet baked goods, otherwise I could have been suffering from rotten teeth and a rapidly expanding waistline, but every now and again a little cake is exactly what's needed. And after a big week moving home and city, an easy, grandma style, restorative cake was called for.

The thing I really like about banana cake is it doesn't feel too naughty even though it is of course, quite indulgent. Fruit being in it means I can scoff the leftovers at breakfast and feel entirely justified in doing so. 

I made this cake in my food processor, this is because I lost my electric whisk in the move and I'm too lazy to do it the old fashioned way - you can make it whichever way you prefer of course, but the food processor will mean you get to eat it sooner and that might help make your decision...  

This recipe will make 2 loaf cakes. For the loaf:
4 small-ish bananas, or 3 big 'uns - I like to use ones that have very dark skins, their flavour is more banana and caramel-like and their flesh is much softer
160g self raising flour
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g golden caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
2 heaped tablespoons creme fraiche
The seeds from a fat vanilla pod 
2 handfuls of pecan nuts, or use walnut halves if you prefer 
2 eggs, beaten
A pinch of salt 

For the toffee icing:
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
125g icing sugar, sieved 
A few pecan halves for decorating the top 

- Preheat your oven to 150 degrees
- Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then add the eggs, creme fraiche, vanilla seeds, butter, salt, bicarbonate of soda, and bananas and mix again. Then add the flour and mix for a final time. Stir in the pecan nuts by hand.
- Grease two loaf tins with butter and pour the mixture between the two tins. Pop into the oven and bake for around 40 minutes - depending on your oven this may take longer or slightly less, simply shake the tin and when the cakes no longer wobble in the centre, spear the centre with a knife and if it comes out clean then they're ready 
- Remove from the oven and turn out onto a cooling rack
- Now for the icing, which must be done when the cake has completely cooled and not before
- In a pan place the butter and both kinds of sugar and cook on a medium heat until the sugar has totally dissolved, if it doesn't completely dissolve it will leave you with icing that has a granular texture 
- Add the milk to the pan and stir into the mix, turn the heat up and continue stirring as it cooks, for a minute, then remove from the heat
- Pour over the cake and dot the top with the pecan halves, wait for the glassy icing to cool before eating. Goes especially well with a strong black coffee.  

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