Don't we sometimes exclaim that we are glad we can choose friends if not relatives? It truly is a blessing to be able to choose friends. But what better than having friends who are also relatives? Cousins! Yes, its wonderful when you have cousins you grow up with who also become your confidantes & best friends for life. I have wonderful cousins - on both sides of my family - all talented, beautiful, smart & intelligent girls & boys with a funny bone each lodged in their spine - enough to tickle the hell out of me each time we get together. I am glad that although everyone is dispersed across the globe, we still are in touch with each other through Facebook.
Many of my fondest childhood memories are associated with this one cousin with whom I shared all my secrets, my sorrows & joys, my triumphs & my failures. The one who recommended the best books which eventually shaped up the quality of books I turned to. We would go to visit each others homes during vacations and yap the whole night away. It was so much fun. It was a time when cable TV, Mobile phones & the Internet had not yet taken the world by storm. Holidays meant lazing around the house playing Scrabble, Monopoly, Ludo & Cards (Ispit as it's called in Konkani - haha I finally recall) or watching endless tapes of Tom & Jerry cartoons (when we were really young) and The Sound of Music and singing all the songs by heart when we were a little older. Thanks to the vast 'hithaals' (compounds) we had plenty of outdoor games to keep the sweat glands busy and what fun it was to pluck raw Mangoes & 'Karmbaal' (Star Fruit) and many other Summer treats that were laden on trees. The only time this darling person turned into a devil was when I messed up a neat stick of butter at the breakfast table :) Haha - messing up butter & slicing Mushrooms are something I find very therapeutic!
Before I bore you anymore, let me tell you the purpose of this narrative in relation to my cousins. I dedicate this one post to this dear cousin who has been with me through all my ups & downs - especially those related to baking. Since my mother never baked - I tried my hand at it after I got married & bought a microwave with convection. So I've been through many a disaster including a Christmas Cake that I baked 5 years ago which got so burnt thanks to mistaken microwave settings that I thought of using it as my foundation stone for my house in Mangalore :-( Never the one to give up (and always encouraged by my cousin to give it another try) I finally managed to master the art of baking in a microwave. It is just recently that I got an OTG as a gift and I had to figure that out all over again cuz it was a very old & basic model with no proper markings or indications on it. Just a few figures of the heating elements and that was it. So after another series of burnt & undone cakes, I have figured it again (if not mastered).
I am dedicating this post with the recipe of a cake that turned out so gorgeous (scroll down to the end for the verdict) to my lovely cousin who suggested this recipe in the first place!
So, Premu Girl, this is for you. Muah!
Chocolate Banana Cake
(Note: I exactly halved all the ingredients to give a smaller yield - serves about 8 people)
For the Cake:
For the Ganache:
- 1/2 cup mashed bananas (I used 1 large Golden Banana - similar to the Cavendish)
- 200 gms granulated sugar
- 123 gms flour
- 38 gms cocoa powder
- 1 large egg
- 60ml milk
- 60ml oil
- 120ml warm water
- 3/4th tsp baking powder
- 3/4th tsp baking soda
- 3/4th tsp vanilla extract/essence
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 100gm semi sweet (I used bitter sweet cooking chocolate) chocolate - Use your favourite brand as it determines the quality of your cake
- 60ml whipping cream - I skipped this as I didnt have any
- 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1. Sift the dry ingredients together - flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda & salt.
2. Mix all the wet ingredients and whisk them together - egg, milk, oil, warm water, vanilla essence & bananas
3. Add the wet ingredients mixture to the dry mixture & mix well
4. Pour into a greased baking tin (I used a 7 inch square tin since I halved the ingredients. For double the quantity it is suggested to use a 9X13 inch (23X33cm) pan)
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 degrees for 35-40 minutes or till the skewer inserted comes clean
6. Remove from oven & allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10minutes before transferring it onto a wire rack till it is completely cooled
7. Alternately heat the cream and butter in a saucepan or microwave it, bring it to a boil & immediately pour it over the chocolate (which you place in another bowl). Stir it slowly & whisk it when the ganache has cooled a bit.
8. Slather the cake with the chocolate ganache. You can go all creative & decorate it as you please
9. Serve the way you like it - warm or cold, with or without ice cream. Enjoy!
Verdict: This was the simplest cake I had ever baked. Really fluffy & moist. Preparation time is not more than 15-20minutes and you need simple ingredients (I always need to plan my cakes when white butter is involved as all my grocers stock only salted butter...arrrgh!). There is no beating & whisking and any of that endless stuff - all you do is combine the dry & wet ingredients separately and then dump them together. Surprisingly, the cake has a very subtle taste of bananas. It is mildly pleasant & reminds you every now & then of its presence. A perfect cake to be whipped together if you have surprise guests as you can have a great dessert (or snack) on hand in 50-55minutes flat. I am definitely going to try this cake again & again (as many times as I have bananas which no one wants to eat :-)
The best part of this cake is that it freezes beautifully! I have some saved up in my freezer for a midnight snack ;-)