Saturday, Week 1:
I’ve indulged myself with a lie-in this morning and at midday, I’m lounging in my pj’s with my dressing gown wrapped around me for warmth on this rather chilly October day. I have a to-do list as long as my arm, and I should have been out and about at least an hour ago… However, yesterday my legs were shaking as I got out of bed. The fresh intake of students, the start of the academic year, all that energy and effort, lack of sleep, adrenalin are taking their toll on me. Somewhat sheepishly, I also admit that some of it is my own fault for staying up and baking a cake.
I confess that I am a baking addict. When I have been putting off baking for some time, there comes a point when I just have to bake something. The urge starts in my stomach and emanates out to the rest of my limbs. My fingers drum nervously on the desk, my legs crisscross, and I keep fidgeting in my seat. I am physically twitching to just get on and bake something. I don’t get this about cooking food. This is purely related to baking, baking, baking. And so this is how I realised that I am a baking addict.
Earlier this week, 4 sad, brown bananas on top of my fridge kept asking me to bake them in Dorie Greenspan’s Banana Bundt Cake. (I’ve been wanting to bake this cake since I saw it here as a Secret Agent Cakein Ari’s blog six months ago.)
“No brown bananas,” I said, “I don’t have time to do anything about you now.”
“But you must, you must.” They sang back, “In a day, we will be too far gone for even a cake to rescue us.”
So, I made a date with them for Wednesday evening. Which is how, after walking around my block and talking about freshers stuff with students, at 11pm on Wednesday evening, I eventually started baking Dorie Greenspan’s Banana Bundt Cake (from Baking: From My Home to Yours).
By the way, I noticed that every blog post about this cake only uses cup measures, which rather irritates me as a UK baker, used to measuring things out in grams or ounzes. So, I’ve measured it out in grammes in this version of the recipe. Instead of plain flour, I substituted self-raising flour for all-purpose flour. I know that all-purpose flour is the US equivalent of plain flour. However, I read on some forum that the results are better with self-raising when baking cakes.
- 4 very ripe bananas, mashed up in a bowl
- 225g butter, cubed and softened
- 300g golden caster sugar (I decided on golden caster sugar for a richer flavour, but 3/4 of the specified amount.)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 450g self-raising flour, sifted
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 225ml sour cream or yoghurt (in the absence of sour cream, but wanting the richness, I had some leftover double cream which I mixed with yoghurt)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and generously grease a 12 cup/23-25cm bundt tin. I used a pampered chef oil spray to coat it liberally with oil.
2. Mash up the bananas in a bowl and put them to one side. In another bowl, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter for about 5 minutes, until the colour is pale and it looks fluffy. Then add the sugar and cream again for a few minutes. I used my Sainsbury Basic electric mixer but I had total KitchenAid Mixer envy because it would have come into its element with this cake. Indeed, Dorie recommends using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
4. Add in the vanilla extract. One by one, add in the eggs and give it a good whizz with the mixer after each egg. Add in the bananas. Give it another whizz with the mixer.
5. Next, add in half of the dry ingredients (flour, salt and bicarb of soda) and mix well. Then pour in the sour cream or yoghurt and mix it in. Finally, beat in the remainder of the dry ingredients and finish it off with a good whizz with the mixer to make sure that everything is beaten in.
6. Pour the cake batter into the bundt tin and spread it out evenly on top. Firmly bang it on a work surface to release any trapped air bubbles.
7. Bake in the oven for 65-75 minutes, or until the cake tester comes out clean. However, check on it around the 35 minute mark and cover with foil if it looks like it is browning too quickly on top, so that the bottom doesn’t burn.
8. Let it cool in the bundt tin for 10 minutes, then carefully invert it onto a wirerack to reveal a beautifully turned out bundt cake and allow it to cool completely.
I made the suggested lemon drizzle icingwhich perfectly complements the cake and is simple to make.
- 150g icing sugar, sifted
- lemon juice. Start with 2 teaspoons. I ended up using juice of half a lemon.
1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add in the lemon juice, starting with 2 teaspoons. Mix. Keep adding the lemon juice, one teaspoon at a time, until the icing reaches the consistency you desire for a drizzle.
2. Drizzle the icing over the cake. Ta Da.
my sliver of bundt cake for breakfast
The verdict? Oh, I need to be careful to make sure that I hold myself back and don’t come across as OTT at this point because this cake tastes even better than the reviews promised it would be.
Can a cake be described as soft and velvety? Because that’s how I would describe the texture of this cake. Each mouthful is an utter joy and delight to eat. The flavour is rich and deep. The lemon drizzle lends a subtle sharpness to the richness of the cake. My colleagues had some the next day and they loved it.
Top Tip: I’ll let you into a secret. This is one of those cakes that gets even better if you leave it a day (at least!) if you can resist it. I dare you. Sure, the icing will become more opaque over time, but you can store it in an airtight container for at least a week. The flavours mature and become even softer. MMmmmmmm…..