Banana, Pecan and Caramel Cake

Banana Cake

My job involves being around cake for eight hours a day. Apart from the occasional bit of cheeky ‘tidying up’, I try not to give in to temptation and eat any. If started eating cake at work, it would be an inevitable and terrifying downward slide into obesity.

Montage

However, I do get the occasional particularly intense craving to eat some cake myself, rather than just seeing it pass under my nose to a customer. Luckily, this craving was well timed, as it coincided with a tea party. I took the photographs when the cake was at its photogenic best – after having travelled in the back seat of my car for twenty minutes, the icing had started to slide off and the carefully arranged pecans had dislodged, making it look much less appetising. But it still tasted good, if I do say so myself.

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This cake is a nod towards a ‘healthy’ cake, if any such thing exists. It started off well, with fruit and nuts, but then I decided to add caramel icing. I was going to be abstemious and leave off the icing, but I’ve got a bit of a thing for homemade caramel. So maybe not that healthy after all.

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Makes a 20cm cake, so you’ll need a 20cm cake tin, greased and the base lined with baking paper.

For the cake:

2 large, ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

100g pecan nuts, roughly chopped (reserve a few whole for decoration)

3 eggs, beaten

200g self-raising flour

200g caster sugar

200g butter

1 tbsp sunflower oil

50g dates, pitted and chopped

For the caramel icing:

Caramel:

80g dark muscovado sugar

80g butter

2 tbsp double cream

A pinch of salt

The rest:

100g cream cheese

200ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 170C. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mashed bananas, dates and pecans. Sift flour and mix in at the end. Pour into the cake tin, level off the top with a knife and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is springy to the touch, and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and leave on a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, first make the caramel. Put the butter and sugar in a pan and set over a low heat, stirring until the butter melts. Stir in 2 tbsp cream and leave to simmer for a few seconds. Set aside to cool.

For the icing, whip the cream cheese and the double cream together until very softly whipped. Stir in about 4 tbsp of the caramel (reserve some for drizzling over the top if you want) then spread the icing over the cake, and dot with pecan nuts.

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