Charles Campion's Banana Cake is a recipe I copied across to my blog from a post that originally appeared on a food chat board, or in my general online diary, or was sent via email… or in one of the many places I shared my food experiences before I finally realised I was "stealth-blogging" and set up Kavey Eats!
It's such a good recipe I always intended to go back and add photos the next time I made it… but, although I've enjoyed making and eating it so many times since, I never have.
My talented-photographer-friend Matt Gibson made it recently and showed me his gorgeous photos. My brain started to tick tock tick tock and I discarded the plan to simply slot his photos into that old post, and asked him to guest blog it afresh instead.
Sharing the same recipe on a blog twice might be odd but Matt's lack of food processor means he's brought some new advice to the recipe, not to mention his confirmation that it's a doddle even for novice or nervous bakers.
Over to Matt:
One evening, a week before Christmas, I peered into my fruit bowl. My three remaining bananas stared forlornly back at me. Over-ripe and -- based on evidence from the two I'd already eaten -- also rather bruised underneath. What to do?
Twitter to the rescue. "Got a banana bread recipe" I asked. "Only this one I've found is American, and I have no idea how many bananas there are in two-and-one-third cups."
Auntie Kavey responded instantly, pointing me at her Charles Campion's Banana Cake page. Not only did it sound easy -- always a bonus for an inexperienced baker like me -- but it called for three medium-sized bananas, exactly what I needed to make use of.
So, I dived in, stymied briefly by the local Co-Operative supermarket having run out of both eggs *and* caster sugar (hint, Co-Op: more people than normal are probably baking stuff in the week before Christmas.)
Another minor speed-bump in my road was the first instruction in the recipe, "Measure all ingredients straight into your food processor and whizz into smooth batter," which rather assumes you own something as fancy as a food processor. Still, at least I've got an electric whisk. Instead of boshing it all together I cubed the butter, which I figured would be the difficult-to-mix bit, and rubbed it into the sifted flour and sugar until I had a breadcrumb-like consistency. Then I added everything else, roughly mixing as I went. Finally I took up my electric whisk and zizzed the mixture to a nice smooth batter.
And that was the hard work done, really. I poured the mix into my greased, floured loaf-tin. Pausing only briefly to check I was neither very young, very old, nor pregnant, I took my life in my hands and tasted a wooden spoon's scraping's-worth of the cake mix that had clung on in the bowl. Niiiice. So, all the signs were good.
I popped the loaf tin straight into my pre-heated oven, did the washing-up, and went to post some "before" photos on Twitter. This is the 21st century, after all; if you've not tweeted about it, it hasn't happened.
About forty-five minutes later I was walking past my kitchen door and had to stop and stick my head in and inhale the lovely banana-ey bready smell that was coming from the oven. Another fifteen minutes and I was pulling open the oven, crossing my fingers, and manhandling the loaf tin onto the kitchen worktop with two strategically-positioned tea towels (I know, I know. "Oven gloves" has been just above "food processor" on my kitchen equipment shopping list for about eight years now.)
It looked good. Dark-to-golden brown, with a nice light sponginess showing through the split that had formed on the top. After a few minutes, I gently tried to slide the loaf out, but it felt a bit too wobbly and was clinging to the sides, so I tried to practise some patience and left it to cool in its tin for a while. Once it wasn't so hot, it slid out more easily, and kept its nice loaf shape as I rolled it onto the cooling rack, though the gooey bottom did sink a millimetre or so into the rack as it settled densely down.
After my disaster with Nigella's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake, which stayed entirely liquid in the middle when I made it, I was a little scared to finally start slicing into my banana cake, but my fears were unfounded. It was a little gooey at the bottom, but pleasantly so, and the rest was a lovely moist cake with a delicious light crust on top and at the edges (the end parts were my personal favourite.) The banana flavour was good, and I hadn't overdone the vanilla, despite my worries.
All in all, this was a fantastic recipe, easy for the baking beginner, even if you're only armed with a £4.99 electric whisk from Argos that smells a bit like a Scalextric car when it's running. You'll never let over-ripe bananas go to waste again.
My beginner's tips:
* "a few drops" of vanilla essence is just under a quarter of a teaspoonful.
* Wait until the loaf's cooled a bit before you try to de-tin it.
* Don't shop for cake ingredients in the Co-Op just before Christmas.
Here's the recipe again with my original notes below. ~ Kavey
Gooey Delicious Banana Cake
175 grams caster sugar
225 grams white self-raising flour
100 grams unsalted butter (I always use lightly salted actually)
3 tablespoons fresh milk (I used fully skimmed as that's what we buy)
2 large fresh eggs
3 medium sized, very ripe bananas
A few drops vanilla essence
- Preheat oven to 185 C (adjust down for fan ovens).
- Measure all ingredients straight into your food processor and whizz into smooth batter.
- Butter a large loaf tin well, then throw in some flour, tap and turn the tin to coat the flour over all surfaces and then tap out any excess into the bin/ sink.
- Pour the batter into the tin.
- Bake for an hour.
Note: Campion says "Because we are looking for a soggy end product, the old-faithful test of sticking in a skewer and withdrawing it clean is not appropriate. With practice you'll simply need to glance at it to tell. In the meantime, because of the style of cake we're trying to achieve, there's a wide margin of error to make things easier."
Note: If it helps, I find the cake rises delightfully and the top turns a lovely rich chocolatey brown (darker than golden brown) and also usually splits, like a lemon drizzle cake.
All images by Matt Gibson.