Because if a cake’s worth doing it’s worth doing properly
We’ve got a delicious banana walnut loaf in our May issue (pictured above, from Nourish Cakes by Marianne Stewart, Quadrille). Everyone has their own tips for creating the ‘best banana loaf cake in the world’, usually handed down from capable grandparents and great-grandparents. But the one we all know is that black bananas are best. But why?
Black (or slightly over-ripe bananas) are often recommended as being easier to digest, but what makes them the best choice for a banana loaf cake is their flavour and texture.
Firstly, as they ripen and the yellow skin gets steadily blacker, chemical reactions inside the banana flesh turn the starch into sugars, making them taste sweeter and that bit more banana-y in the cake.
Secondly, the flesh becomes softer and easier to mash, and it also breaks down more easily during the baking process, so you don’t get lumps of banana in the cake once it’s cooked. You might like lumps of banana in your cake, in which case, don’t allow us to lead you down a black banana path - feel free to go your own way - but a riper banana gives a smoother cake, nonetheless.
Catching your bananas at the perfect level of cake-readiness is tricky. Ideally, you want a banana that is pretty dark but still has some yellow on it and lots of big, black spots and patches, but you can definitely still bake with completely black bananas. And here’s a pro-banana tip for you: if you’ve got to Tuesday and your bananas look perfect for a loaf cake but you know you won’t be baking until Saturday, pop them in the freezer. The skins will turn completely black in there but the flesh inside will remain at the same level of ripeness, waiting for you to release it from the freezer drawer (take them out a couple of hours before you want them), mash the banana and help it on its way to its higher state of being, transformed from slightly disappointing fruit bowl fellow to much welcomed fluffy banana loaf.
You’ll find the recipe for the banana walnut cake on p29 of our May issue.