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Go bananas, go nuts

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Michael Caines was just named best chef in Britain. I admit that I didn't know much about him but for the fact that he was a Michelin-starred chef and that he had lost an arm in a car accident. And then I watched him in an old episode of the Good Food Channel show Perfect in which he makes three types of cakes, and I knew I had to find out more about him. (And just as I started reading up, there was news of him winning best chef for the second time! What *perfect* timing!)
One of the cakes he made on the show was a banana walnut cake with cream cheese frosting. Now, this show pits two cooking icons against each other and they both had to make three types of cakes – a Victoria Sponge, an everyday cake, and a fancy decorated one. They were judged by a panel of three experts and his cakes won each time.
The simplest one of the three, I thought, was the banana cake. It certainly wasn't difficult and if mine turned out anything like his, then I can see why the judges were so happy with it. It is light and nutty, and you can taste the banana but it doesn't overpower. The cream cheese frosting meets the level of sweetness that I like – just right. All the ingredients in the recipe are weighed, and that's probably why it's perfect.
By the way, if anyone needs a last-minute cake for their Chinese New Year party, this is a quick one to whip up.
I'm still carrying around some holiday weight from Christmas and shouldn't be eating so much of these sweet things, but I couldn't help it with this cake. I ate a slice (all right, two!) the day after I made it, took most of it to the office except for one more slice which I finished this morning. 
Well, I'm just filling my daily requirement of fruit.
Brick and mortar... but only in appearance, not in texture!
Michael Caines' Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves 6-8

85g butter
115g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
220g plain flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
225g ripe bananas (about 2 large ones), mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g walnuts, coarsely broken

For the frosting
200g cream cheese
100g unsalted butter
150g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease a 22x12x10cm loaf pan well.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together for 3 minutes, then add the eggs gradually and beat until the mixture is well creamed. Add the vanilla and mix well.
Sieve the flour, salt, soda and baking powder together.
Alternately add the mashed banana and sieved dry ingredients to the creamed butter, sugar and egg mixture until well incorporated.
Stir in the walnuts and pour into the prepared loaf pan, leaving a slightly lower elvel in the middle. This will ensure that the cake rises evenly.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, then remove from the pan and allow to cool a little on a wire rack before frosting.
For the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl, then beat in the sugar and vanilla until smooth and soft. Spread the frosting over the slightly warm cake.
This cake is best left for a day before serving.


  1. What a lovely cake. This is my first visit to your blog, so I took some time to browse through your earlier posts. I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  2. This is a fabulous combination and it resulted in a beautiful cake, which sounds yummy.


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