Friday, 6 June 2014

Banana and poppy seed cake

Today I give you my latest favourite cake which makes the most under-utilised (and most unbiquitous) item in everyone's fruit bowl its ABSOLUTE star: that bunch of over-ripe, blackened bananas. For years I was more than content to turn them into Nigella Lawson's banana bread which is utterly glorious - but then, late last year, I came across another recipe in my favourite German food magazine which introduced another simply irresistible ingredient to the mix - Mohn (poppy seeds). These are, of course, a staple of German baking where they are turned into, amongst other delicacies, a yeasty strudel, poppy seed rolls or a Mohnstreuselkuchen (a biscuit base topped with a cooked poppy paste made from milk, sugar and vanilla and then topped with buttery crumble). BUT dare I say it: this recipe trumps all of them - it is a doddle to make, it's incredibly moist yet "crunchy" and tastes DIVINE - please give it a go:

350g self-raising flour
75g ground poppy seeds*
125g ground nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts and/or almonds)**
4 very ripe bananas (300 – 400g without their skins)***
175g soft butter
250g sugar
1 tsp of vanilla essence/paste
1 pinch of salt
3 eggs
25 g creme fraiche/sour cream or plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 180 ° (160 ° fan oven).
Mix the flour, poppy seeds and nuts. Peel the bananas and mash to a mush with a fork.
Whisk the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt with a hand mixer until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.
Add the flour mixture, bananas and cream/yogurt alternately in batches and stir until well combined.
Spoon the dough into a well-greased Gugelhupf/Bundt cake tin or a ca 30cm x 11cm loaf tin lined with baking paper and bake for about 1 hour or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.****

*Here in Brussels poppy seeds are (now) readily available at both GB/Carrefour and Delhaize in their "coin patisserie" above the flours with the other seeds for baking.
**I always grind my own nuts - it's so much more economical. ALDI sell them at great value for €1.99/125g.
***Bananas freeze REALLY well - whenever I have four I pop the mash in a ziplock bag to use another time - RESULT!
****The dough behaves extremely well in all baking tins/forms - here I used it for small individual cakes - SO pretty!

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