Saturday, February 23, 2013

I made a cake

Sometimes I have nothing more to say than “Here, I made a cake. You can make it too and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did”.

That would be cool. Many people do just that, they don’t write long blog posts to accompany their recipes. I, on the other hand, enjoy writing so when I find myself struggling for words, I don’t like it.

So in the spirit of not beating myself too much about it, I’ll just keep it short and sweet. This is an everyday cake; don’t you hate that term by the way, “everyday cake”? It implies it’s not special but I think it is, it’s quite delicious actually and that’s what matters.

It has the combination of flavors that I once dreaded (before this ice cream changed my mind), banana and chocolate, and there are some ground hazelnuts in there that give it a slightly crunchy mouth-feel. A sprinkling of demerara sugar on top makes it playfully crispy and did I mention the chocolate is milk chocolate? Yes, and let me tell you, that’s a very good thing.

I haven’t used milk chocolate in ages, ever since I made this ice cream, but it’s so perfect in this cake, it really complements the rest of the ingredients well, and as it oozes out of a warm piece, it’s extremely tempting.

The crumb is dense and moist and the aroma of the banana will drive you crazy before the cake cools down enough to eat. You don’t have to eat it right then and there though, because the next day it’ll taste infinitely better as the flavors would’ve had the chance to develop.

I served it with crème fraîche sprinkled with a whiff of cinnamon and it was delightful, but a straight-up piece, along with a hot cup of coffee, will make the best breakfast ever.

It did this morning.

P.S. I believe that the two references to ice cream make it clear that I have summer on my mind. Dutch winters can have that effect on me.

P.P.S. As you know, I much prefer to express myself through music rather than words, so I'll leave you with this song that I'm listening to all day today. Join me.

Banana Cake with Ground Hazelnuts and Milk Chocolate Chunks

This is a substantial cake that fills you up and makes you rub your belly with contentment. Consider yourselves warned.

Yield: 1 cake / 8-10 pieces

180 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the pan
90 g caster sugar
90 g soft light brown sugar
80 g blanched unsalted hazelnuts
2 large eggs
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
180 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 medium-sized (about 300 g), very ripe (almost black) bananas, peeled and roughly cut into pieces
180 g good quality milk chocolate (or dark chocolate 55% cocoa solids if you want), cut into small chunks
1-2 Tbsp demerara sugar

Crème fraîche, for serving (optional)
Ground cinnamon, for serving (optional)

Special equipment: stand or hand-held mixer, small food processor, loaf pan (23 x 9 x 8 cm), baking paper

In a small skillet or sauté pan add the blanched hazelnuts and place over a medium heat. Toast the nuts, stirring often so they don’t get burned, until they become fragrant and brown lightly. Transfer them to your food processor and allow them to cool. Then grind them, being careful not to grind them too finely otherwise they’ll start releasing their natural oils and become pasty. You don’t want that.

Add them to a medium-sized bowl along with the flour and baking powder and mix with a spatula.

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius / 325 Fahrenheit.
Butter the bottom and sides of your loaf pan with butter and line it with baking paper.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl), add the softened butter and the caster and soft light brown sugar and using the paddle attachment (or your hand-held mixer), beat on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes or until you have a creamy and light-colored mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and then add the vanilla extract. Beat for 10 seconds and then add the ground hazelnuts-flour mixture to the bowl. Beat on low speed until just combined and you don’t see any white patches of flour. Fold in the chocolate chunks and the banana pieces. The resulting batter will be slightly thick.

Empty the cake batter into your prepared loaf pan, straighten the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon and sprinkle the top with the demerara sugar.

Place the pan on the low rack of your oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then transfer it to the middle rack of the oven and bake for a further 35-45 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. If the top of the cake darkens too quickly while baking, cover it lightly with aluminum foil.

Once ready, take the pan out of the oven and place it on a wire rack until the cake cools. Then remove it from the pan and allow it to cool completely on the rack.

Cut it into pieces and serve it, with some crème fraîche and a sprinkling of cinnamon if you want.

You can keep it at room temperature, covered, for 4-5 days. It will taste better as the days pass.

Adapted from Nigel Slater


  1. Yassou Magda!! Eissai kala!! I follow your recipes and this one I will make it looks out of this world even though I am on a low glycemic index diet. Ciao

  2. I think the combination of the milk chocolate and banana is great, and the hazelnut gives it more than just crunch but a depth and earthiness. And, food aside, I love what you write, always getting inspiration for my own blog, and then when you post music, favorite videos, kitchen décor, I get all excited because all these little bonuses along with your writing are so enjoyable. ~ David

  3. That's a bit more than 'I made a cake', good! I like your writing. It's been a while since I last made banana cake. You got me inspired.

  4. If that is "everyday" it's only because it would make the every day sublime!!!! I must make this and eat it in abundance :)

  5. I feel the same way as you do when it comes to writing my posts. But sometimes it is just all about the recipe and there is no rhyme or reason for it other than it is just a fabulous recipe! Banana and chocolate - one of life's perfect couplings. I love how moist and moreish the cake looks.

  6. Magda, nothing more than "I made this" needs to be said about this beauty. The crumb looks sensational. We make banana-chocolate bread often in this house (my husband is crazy for it) but I've never thought to use hazelnut meal. What an inspired addition!

  7. I am a banana bread lover and just baked one yesterday. Looking forward to eating it on the week end. I love the choc chip, banana and nut combination and how moist and comforting it is.

  8. kali Sarakosti Magda! Efxomai na perasate kala simera. Keep on the fantastic work.