Because in the situation that you have to deal with dragons, you need an easy banana cake recipe. You don’t want to be running around creaming eggs and frothing sugar. Or something.
Those are baking things, right?
Okay, I’m actually not that bad at baking (although my cooking might be up for questioning). But sometimes we really do need something easy, a recipe that works every time and doesn’t take an age to prepare or require a run to the shop for fabulous ingredients. Because there are times when life just calls for cake.
Cake is wonderful. It can be celebration or commiseration, comfort food or decadent delight. We can make it as a sign of our love for a special person, or as a gift for someone we don’t even know, a way to make them feel welcome or appreciated. We can buy that last slice in the bakery window as a Tuesday night treat, or order something gargantuan for a party.
We can share it with others or bask in the indulgence of having it just for ourselves. It can mean anything from “hello” to “I love you” to “I’m sorry my cat ate your bird and vomited feathers in your shoe”. Or it can mean nothing more than “I want something sweet.” It’s terribly, wonderfully versatile.
And, look. I know there are plenty of healthy cake recipes out there. I even make them sometimes, because they’re tasty and I eat a lot of cake, so lower sugar and fat varieties are good for me. But. But. Some days nothing beats a good old-fashioned cake, not very good for you but tasty and beautiful and satisfying.
Plus dragons are not known for their adherence to low-fat diets.
Cakes and baking feature heavily in my writing, as does tea and food in general. While there may be many things in life that a nice cuppa and a cake just can’t fix, in the little village of Toot Hansell it certainly helps. If nothing else, it gives the inhabitants time to collect themselves and see what’s coming — and to discuss suspects, because for a small village there certainly are a lot of dodgy goings-on. Murdered vicars and kidnapped postmen, not to mention exploding baubles and those pesky dogs. It’s enough to make anyone reach for the heavy cream.
Which is why it’s important to have a reliable cake recipe to hand in case of investigating dragons or emergency gatherings involving ladies of a certain age. And this is an exceptionally reliable recipe.
It’s technically a recipe for banana bread, and is beautifully dense and moist, but to me the flavour is much more indulgent than anything I associate with bread. You could even push the boat out and slap some spiced icing on top, or add chocolate chips to the mix. It’s incredibly forgiving, too — as you’ll see below, I didn’t even have the right tin for it, let alone the right ingredients, but it came out wonderfully anyway. It also freezes very well, so you can keep some tucked away for unexpected dragons (or other visitors).
But I’m hoping for dragons.
Let me know your favourite easy recipes in the comments, lovely people – and what you’d always have handy in the case of unexpected dragons!
Easy Banana Cake Recipe
- 2 cups/255g flour
- 3/4 cup/150g sugar
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups/155g toasted walnuts, chopped coarsely (or try something else – I had no nuts in the house except peanuts, which didn’t seem quite right, so I used chopped dates instead. It did make it a little sweeter, but so good!)
- 3 very large ripe bananas, mashed — approx 1 1/2 cups/450g (aaand if you have no ripe bananas because you used them all in smoothies, you can shove some unripe ones in the oven while it’s heating up. By the time it reaches temperature the skins should be very dark, and you’ll have “ripe” bananas. Yay for disorganised cooks everywhere!)
- 1/4 cup/61g yoghurt (or, if you forgot to buy any, put a tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice in the measure and make it up to 1/4 cup with milk. Let it sit while you prep everything else. See, I know all the tricks for forgetful cooks. 😉 )
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 6 tbsp/85g butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp melted butter
Grease and line a 23cm x 13 cm (9″ x 5″) loaf tin. Or, if you thought you had one but seem to have mislaid it in a move at some point, just use a square pan. Or a round one. You know, it all works. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Pop your unripe bananas in with their skins still on, and thank Google for interesting information.
Whisk (by hand) flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and walnuts (or whatever you’re using) in large bowl and set aside.
Mix mashed bananas, yoghurt or equivalent, eggs, cooled melted butter (make sure it’s cool before it hits the eggs. Yes, I know from experience) and vanilla in medium bowl.
Realise you’ve actually put the dry stuff in the medium bowl and the wet stuff in the large bowl.
Mix them together gently until just combined, and tip into baking pan.
Bake until golden brown and skewer or knife comes out clean – it took about 45 minutes in the square pan, but may need 55 in the loaf pan.
Allow to cool, and prepare for dragons.
And don’t forget to let me know your favourite dragon-friendly recipes below!