When it’s time for tea, it’s always time for a snack. It’s one of those unspoken rules of India. Snacks are hardly ever served without tea or coffee, and coffee and tea are hardly ever served without a snack or two to munch on. Whether it’s sweet or savoury, as simple as a slice of cake or as exciting as a serving of roasted peanut salad, snacks are an essential part of the Indian affair with food.
A perennially available fruit of this bountiful tropical country that I live in is bananas. More specifically, plantains. But I won’t get into the specifics of that, because everyone’s got a favourite banana/plantain variety in India. And yes, there is a wide variety to choose from.
This recipe calls for the long yellow bananas, called dessert bananas, that grow abundantly and are exported and imported across the world from tropical countries. This variety is ideal for baking since it is sweeter and less sour than other varieties. This simple tea-time cake doesn’t call for brown sugar either, and is dense all by itself because of the high moisture content of the bananas. The peanut butter frosting paired with this is an absolute delight, providing the mild savoury element to this sweet cake.
Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg powder (optional)
pinch of cinnamon powder (optional)
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
Peanut Butter Frosting
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
4 tbsp powdered sugar
- Mash the bananas with your fork in a large bowl. Add the eggs to the mashed bananas and whisk with the fork until it all comes together.
- Melt the butter and let it cool. Add sugar to the melted butter and pour the butter and sugar mixture (once cool), into the banana mixture. Add vanilla essence and mix well.
- At this stage, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius for ten minutes and coat the loaf tin with a little butter on all sides. Dust the tin with flour, turning the container to coat it with flour on all sides. This will make it easier for the cake to slip out once cool.
- In another mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Pour your dry mixture into the wet mixture and combine just until there are no lumps in your batter. Don’t over-mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 45-50 minutes in your oven.
- For the frosting – While your cake bakes, mix all the frosting ingredients together until it forms a smooth paste. Refrigerate it until it’s ready to be used.
- Once your cake is ready, and a toothpick or fork poked through your cake comes out clean, let your cake cool completely before attempting to release it from the tin.
- Once the cake is cool and has been overturned and released from its tin, slice it all the way through to frost it in the middle. Cover the cake up and slather your frosting on top of the cake.
- Cut generous slabs of cake for tea time and enjoy!
The shape of your tin doesn’t really matter. The loaf tin just makes it easier to slice through to frost in the middle. You can also use a regular round or square shaped tin and opt to frost only the outside as well!
Buttering and dusting your cake tin is important to ensure that the cake doesn’t stick to the container, even if your pan says “non-stick” on it. An easy way to dust your tin with flour is to put a tablespoon of flour and keep turning it on its side to coat the buttered sides and bottom.
Waiting for your cake to cool is important because you don’t want to feel heartbreak when your cake breaks, and you don’t want to put cold buttercream frosting on a hot cake unless you want melted flavoured sweet butter. It isn’t pretty. Just be patient.
The walnuts release their own oils into the cake preserving the cake for longer. Not that anyone expects the cake to last very long, though :).