Bananas ripen rapidly in the summer heat, and if you're anything like me you will periodically buy more bananas than your household can consume, such that your fruit bowl is on the brink of screaming "banana surplus" and "come and get them" to the local fruit flies. You may also have come across the completely different problem of how to feed impromptu guests, since you're on a diet and dare not stash just-in-case desserts in your freezer for fear of indulging in them by yourself.
Well, this banana, walnut, rum and raisin cake is the solution to both of these problems. It is easy to put together at short notice, consists of ingredients that often sit idly in your pantry, and it makes your house smell fabulous and proves you to be a stupendous baker, even if you've never baked anything else in your life!
4 ripe bananas [and they can be veeeeery ripe]
175g plain flour [OR wholewheat pastry flour - OR a mix of both kinds*]
125g unsalted butter [OR 1/3 cup canola oil*]
2 large eggs
100g raisins [OR 100g fresh blueberries]
75ml rum [brandy works too!] [if going with blueberries you can just drink this!]
100g chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
½ teaspoon salt
Pre-heat oven to 340F. Grease and flour a 1 x 9 inch loaf tin.
Soak the raisins in the rum and bring to the boil. Mash the bananas with a fork (or your bare hands! for dual function of stress relief). Mix the chopped walnuts with a couple of tablespoons of the flour.
Melt the butter, add the sugar, beat in the eggs and add the mashed bananas. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and bicarb together and gradually beat in to the mixture until fully blended. Add the walnuts, rum and raisins (or fresh blueberries if you prefer) and vanilla essence. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for around 75 minutes. Insert a toothpick to test if the centre is cooked: if so the toothpick should be clean when removed. Turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack...but only briefly because it's yummy when hot.
I often serve slices of this banana loaf when they're still piping hot, fresh from the oven, with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream alongside. It's a great dessert for dinner parties, or any parties, because it can be happily baking while you mingle with arriving guests, and as it bakes it fills the house with wafts of irresistable banana-vanilla-rum aroma.
It also makes a great snack on a weekend afternoon with a cup of earl grey tea.
*Wanna make it healthier?
Since the bananas themselves are so sweet, here I have already halved the sugar from the original recipe - I didn't notice a difference in taste. I'm also very fond of replacing the plain flour with wholewheat pastry flour, which makes it more of a banana bread than a cake, and in that case a slice also works well for breakfast.
Also, using canola oil instead of butter is healthier (since the former has significantly less saturated fat) but it can make the cake a little greasier to touch. I've indicated the amount of canola oil to substitute, if you so wish.
Who's the handsome chap in the picture?
Why it's BananaMan of course! "Ever alert to the call for action!" Doo-do-do-doooooo, doo-doo doo-doo doooooo do-dooooo....