One highlight of my weekends is reading Dan Lepard’s How To Bake column in The Guardian. His recipes are written in his signature no-nonsense style with an even simpler list of ingredients yet never fail to deliver on taste. That’s good value to me. Last weekend’s article on bare banana cake caught my attention effortlessly. When Lepard posted the shopping list midweek calling for lots of bananas, I subconsciously stocked up before I even realized what I was putting in my basket. Needless to say, the fruit bowl was overtaken by spotty bananas this week and I knew just what to do about them.
The ingredient list for Dark Banana Ginger Cake is as bare as can be: muscovado sugar, bananas, sunflower oil, eggs, candied ginger, whole wheat bread flour, and baking powder. Problem is that I am running low on pantry staples after my week-long baking bender. Among this list, I only had enough bananas, candied ginger, and baking powder I needed for the recipe. I don’t even have a baking pan of the right size! Improvisation was in order.
Muscovado is a flavourful granular unrefined sugar contributing much to the flavour of the cake. Replacing it with white sugar, molasses, or any regular brown sugar just wouldn’t do. Luckily, I had a small bag of piloncillo, an unrefined sugar commonly used in Mexican cuisine (psst, if you want to make me very very happy, send me a bag of this). I am no stranger to using chunks of unrefined sugar and well-aware of the extra work involved. I decided that flavours ought not be compromised.
On the subject of flavour, sunflower oil tastes neutral and apparently not found in my kitchen. I went with a mix of butter and walnut oil which added a lovely dimension to my cake. I supplemented my shortfall of chicken eggs with a duck egg and whole wheat flour with heritage red fife flour. Now we’re bakin’!
Piloncillo Banana Ginger Cake
adapted from Dan Lepard’s Dark Banana Ginger Cake
makes one 9-inch square cake
- 200g piloncillo sugar
- 80g unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoon walnut oil
- 300g brown spotty bananas, about 3 large ones
- 3 large chicken eggs
- 1 relatively small duck egg
- 75g candied ginger, finely chopped
- 100g whole wheat bread flour
- 120g wholemeal red fife flour
- 3 teaspoon baking powder
- If you have the brawn, chop the piloncillo sugar into small pieces. If not, put it in a small saucepan along with butter and heat over low heat until melted, stirring regularly. You want to keep an eye on it so neither the butter nor the sugar burns. Tedious, I know. It may take up to 30 minutes so get yourself a big mug of coffee (or wine!) next to the stove for sipping.
- When the sugar and butter is homogenous, pour into a large mixing bowl. Preheat oven to 335F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
- Add walnut oil to melted sugar and mash in the bananas until smooth. Whisk in the eggs and candied ginger too.
- In a different bowl, whisk together both flours and baking powder. Gently fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
- Fill the prepared cake pan with batter and bake for 45-50 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.
- Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes before unmolding to cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature. This cake keeps well in an airtight container for up to 3 days.