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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Banana Cake

It's baking time!

Well actually, this banana cake featured here was done quite a while ago. And the photos have sat in my to-blog folder forever! So long it probably is about time to be baking this again, soon...

This, is a favorite of mine (oh and I have got so many other favorites! lol). My history with the banana cake started even before I actually started schooling really. An uncle of mine used to man and run a concession stand right in the middle of a huge golf course back in my hometown. That's where the golfers stopped to take a break from the game, stay off the sun (and sometimes rain) for a brief moment and have a drink and something light to munch on before moving on.

And kids being kids - with nothing more practical and productive to do most of the days - weekends especially, this golf course was where I used to spend a whole lot of my free time back then. My job description included helping around whenever and wherever help was needed (even that came optional) and being the boss during the brief minutes of my uncle/aunt/or cousin sisters' absence. But really, a bigger part - no, in fact most of the time spent was just me (sometimes with my brother) and my cousin sisters playing around in the nature - feeding the fish and turtles in the surrounding ponds and chasing the monitor lizards (yup, not even kidding here lol!).

All these came with this - which was the best part of all - that I could help myself to the endless food and beverages at the concession stand all day long! The banana cake was my big time top favorite! Bought freshly baked daily from a bakery shop in town, I would always remember the aroma of the bananas lingering around, noticeable even before you actually make an entry into the shop. And as of the last time I checked with my mom-in-law, the shop's standing strong to-date still. Which, just reminded me - I probably should make a stop for a slice of the banana cake there during my next trip back!

That marked the official start between me and the banana cake story. Over the years, I have had plenty other banana cakes everywhere. You get them everywhere in Malaysia, thanks to the great abundance of the bananas grown locally. Bakeries aside, they have been greatly manufactured and are actually sold in pre-packaged loaves (with long expiry), just like how the everyday breads are sold. In fact, that's where you can find the banana cakes - on the bread shelves! With such a vast selection in the market, there are easily the really not-so-good ones - essentially baked with a bunch of flour making up the volume and artificially flavored with some banana essence giving the taste, probably with a tinge of coloring to make it look all the more appealing too. And of course there are the real good ones - nothing artificial in their making - just like the one that made me fall in love with the banana cake at my very first try decades ago.

The sweet Pisang Mas (or the mini bananas) makes the best banana cakes - a fact made known to me by my mom. But the baby bananas are not something that we see much around in the market here. So I resorted to using the main and the most popular commercial variety sold here - the Cavendish (or better known as the Montel bananas in Malaysia). Left to ripen fully when it will have more brown spots than yellow, the banana is said to be at their height of sweetness bearing the strongest banana flavour, which then makes it all perfect for baking...

This recipe is one I adapted from Christine from Christine's Recipes in her post on the Banana Cake Recipe. And this marked my second attempt at this using the same recipe. This second time, I have made an adjustment calling for a slight reduction in the amount of sugar used and a reduction in the baking time as well. Those two, are of course subjected to personal preference and the performance level of different ovens. But this is one that I have got really happy with for now, so here's me penning this down as a reference to myself hereon, and to everyone else who may share the same interest in baking a homemade loaf of banana cake...

Just a final note here - if you noticed the darker layer at the bottom of the loaf of banana cake, to be honest I was a little concerned with that bit when I first sliced through the cake, thinking that I might have underbaked it. But nope, that part wasn't sticky, nor was it hard or having a texture any different from the rest. It tasted perfectly fine! So really, why a different tone? I honestly have not an idea. Anyone with any idea?

Anyhow, you should really try this for yourself - the cake's moist, so fragrant and soft it makes my man at home who is just an ok ok person with the banana cake fall for it even!

Banana Cake 
Adapted from Christine's Recipes
Makes a 9.25"x5.25"x2.75" loaf pan
1½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
4 ripe bananas (very ripe) - so riped I didn't even dare taking a close-up picture of them lol
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted (using the microwave first for 20 seconds, stirred then heated for another 10 seconds)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg, whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
the ingredients

1. Peel the bananas and place them in a mixing bowl. Using the potato masher or a spoon or a fork, mash the bananas. Add in the melted butter and mix in with the mashed banana well using a spatula.

2. Bring in the sugar, whisked egg and the vanilla extract. Mix well.

3. Pour in the milk and again mix to combine well.

4. Add in the baking soda together with the salt, followed by 1/3 of the sifted all-purpose flour. Fold the flour into the batter until they are well incorporated. Bring in another 1/3 of the flour and again fold to mix. Repeat with the last batch of the flour.

5. Line the baking pan with the parchment paper and lightly grease it. Pour in the cake batter, leveling off the top with the spatula. I made a slit right down the middle using a bamboo skewer (totally optional - that's just how I personally like my cake to look like when baked).
6. Bake in the oven preheated at 350°F for 55 minutes. Sit back, relax and enjoy the aroma meanwhile lol. Test for doneness by inserting in a bamboo skewer right down the middle. If it comes out clean, it's done! Let bake for another 5 minutes or so otherwise.

7. Remove from the oven and let sit to cool on a cooling rack. Once cooled down enough, slice and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! I love the not-so-sweet taste and the simple ingredients.

    I'd like to share my own experience with the recipe:
    I am, first and foremost, a college student, and therefore always broke. I didn't have milk or brown sugar or very ripe bananas on hand so I used: soymilk in lieu of milk, sugar in the raw packets instead of brown sugar, and microwaved the bananas to get them soft enough to mash (they were yellow at least)....Then I made a second batch after I was able to get groceries the second time around, with all the right ingredients. Here are my conclusions:

    -Using soymilk vs milk has no noticeable difference
    -The brown sugar vs cane sugar is mostly aesthetics: buying dark brown sugar makes it look more like a banana cake
    -I didn't magically ripen any bananas, so both batches were made with microwaved (1.5 mins) just-ripe bananas--all I have to say is that if you don't drain, you DONT need to add the milk. It'll make the cake too watery and dense. large chunks are easier to drain, press the pieces again the side of the bowl to squeeze out the water/syrup.

    Also, I put 1.5 tsp of baking soda in the second time to see if it would rise more/be less dense, and it didn't seem to do much--perhaps the pan that I was using is too deep and narrow? wider shallower may be better.

    Thank you again for sharing this delicious recipe, I'll be sure to make another batch in the very near future.


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