Thursday, 1 March 2012

Recipe 72 - Banana and Lemon Cake

Back in 2000, I spent a summer as an Economic Botany (useful plants) intern at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London, England. It was a great place to work. More than anything, it made me realize how much I value working somewhere beautiful, around others who also value that beauty.

While working at Kew, I picked up three cookbooks: Chocolate, Berries and Bananas. I have no idea why I bought those books. In the twelve years that have passed, I think I've only ever tried out one recipe: Banana Muffins. Ha! To my credit, I think I used to bake those muffins quite a lot... Generally speaking, I rarely use my cookbooks and I hope I slowly made good use of them over the course of my life.

After leafing through about ten of my cookbooks, I finally settled on Banana and Lemon Cake from, you guessed it, Bananas!

Banana and Lemon Cake
Light, moist and flavoursome, this cake keeps very well and it's everybody's favourite.

Serves 8-10

For the cake
250g (2 1/4 cups) plain flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
115g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g (scant 1 cup) caster sugar (aka granulated sugar)
75g (1/2 c) soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
225g (1 cup) mashed, very ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla essence
60ml (4 tbsp) milk
75g (3/4 cup) chopped walnuts

For the icing
115g (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
450g (4 1/2 cups) icing sugar (aka confectioners sugar)
1 tsp grated lemon rind
45-75ml (3-4 tbsp) lemon juice

To decorate
lemon-rind curls

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease two 23cm/9in round cake tins and line the base of each with non-stick baking paper. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

Beat the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and stir in the lemon rind.

Mix the mashed bananas with the vanilla essence and milk in a small bowl. Stir this, in batches, into the creamed butter mixture, alternating with the sifted flour. Stir lightly until just blended. Fold in the walnuts.

Divide the mixture between the cake tins and spread evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack. Peel off the lining paper and leave to cool.

Make the icing. Cream the butter in a bowl until smooth, then gradually beat in the icing sugar. Stir in the lemon rind and enough of the lemon juice to make a spreading consistency.

Place one of the cakes on a serving plate. Spread over one-third of the icing, then top with the second cake. Spread the remaining icing evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with lemon-rind curls.

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