I’m pretty sure your timeline has been flooded with updates about the first rain shower in our blessed but so-hot city. Don’t worry – this isn’t a superfluous rant. I genuinely love the rains – I always have. What I love most is that somehow, everything seems to slow down a little. Have you ever noticed that? There’s no frantic scurrying or anything moving at break neck speed. I know, I know. The love for monsoons will slowly fade (for others, not me) into bitching about how its so sticky everywhere. Still. I’ll continue to marvel at the winding down, even if only temporarily.
Moving onto more important things – while the city winds down, what will you be making and eating? I have the perfect lazy evening cake project for you. This loaf is many things but hasty. It’s to be savored too, not wolfed down. I made this for my dad. We have a ritual, us two. When he comes back home from work and rings the doorbell, he knows what I’m baking. He says the aroma permeates the foyer and apparently, you smell it from the elevator itself. So while he tries to guess what it is, I cut him a fat slice of cake or give him a freshly baked cookie and all is well. Today he’s back from a trip out of town. With the melange of flavors in this cake, I’d like to see him get this one right. It takes at least an hour to bake, give or take another 20 minutes. As with most dense cakes, I like to check in on them after 30 minutes to see if they’ve been browning too quickly. If so, add a sheet of foil – loose enough to make a tent and let it continue to bake.
The cake is an adaptation of Dorie Greenspan’s Black & White Banana Loaf. I just subbed and added a few things – instead of lemon zest, I used orange. I love the pairing of chocolate and orange – so sophisticated – and lately, I’ve been adding pecans on everything. I also added Grand Marnier instead of rum. Although you can use whatever you like, I highly recommend the orange zest and liquor. This cake also marks the first time I’ll use brown sugar in a cake. In cookies, I prefer to switch quantities because I love crispy golden instead of chewy brown. I did the same here and while the cake is fudgy, I don’t have anything to compare it to. Either way, I think you will enjoy this cake, warm with coffee and rains (till the novelty wears off, anyway).
Black, White and Orange Banana Loaf
Serves: 4 to 6
1 1/3 cups (160 g) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1 1/2 bananas, peeled
Zest of 1 small orange
1 tbs Grand Marnier (or dark rum)
3 oz. chocolate, cut into chunks or chips
1/2 cup (113 g) + 2 tbs (26 g) butter, divided, at room temperature*
2/3 cup (66 g) brown sugar
1/3 cup (133 g) caster sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature*
1/2 cup milk
A handful of pecans, chopped (optional)* Off late, I’ve noticed that simply microwaving the butter to come to room temperature isn’t enough. I’ve started to remove it from the refrigerator up to 40 minutes before. I’ve noticed a drastic improvement in the texture of my cakes, especially. The same rule applies to eggs – they don’t curdle as much as they used to.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 deg C. Butter and flour an 8″ loaf tin and place it on a baking tray lined with a silicon mat. Melt the chocolate with butter and set aside to cool.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and nutmeg.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. While the butter is being creamed, add sugars and orange zest in a bowl and rub your fingers together till the sugar becomes clumpy and fragrant. Add the sugars to the butter and beat on medium speed for another 2 minutes till combined and smooth. Then, add the eggs one a time, beating just enough for them to combine. The mixture could possibly curdle at this point – that’s okay. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour. Pour in the milk.
4. In another small bowl, mash bananas with a fork and add Grand Marnier. Fold that in.
5. Finally, add up to half of the batter into the chocolate and fold it in. Add pecans.
6. Then, alternate each batter and drop carefully into the tin. Use a wooden skewer to swirl the batter together (but be gentle!) and bake for 80 to 90 minutes.