Banana O’Rily

I’ve started full-time work this week, so you’ll have to forgive me if I get a little drunk on my own power and come over all megalomaniacal at you. I’ll try to keep it in check. Leonard Cohen tickets were selling on Trademe today (NZ’s Ebay-lite) for over $600, so as yet it looks like I’m really not going, and thus my dream of seeing my Canadian triumverate (Leonard, Neil, Rufus) is not quite going to come to fruition. No need to go listening to “Who By Fire” on constant loop just yet however, because I found out on the weekend – care of a certain lovely father of mine – that I’m going to be seeing The Who in March, and I am just ridiculously excited. For those of you who have been so unfortunate not to have had your ears blessed by their music…think of the CSI theme tunes. The original and the Miami and New York spin-off themes are all Who songs (who? I hear you say…)
We went to visit Tim’s parents over the weekend and they sent us back to Wellington with a large bag of ripe bananas, with which I decided to do the obvious thing and use them in some kind of cake. I made banana bread using a much-repeated recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess, a book so imbued with the spirit of baking that its very pages, were you to lick them, taste of cinnamon and nutmeg. Although that could well be because I’m so messy and schmeer batter everywhere.

It’s a non-threatening but diverting recipe, the batter spiked with luscious, rum-soaked sultanas (although I use Marsala al’uovo for preference, it’s flavour is impossible to better) and irregularly sized chunks of chopped chocolate folded through at the end. Rustic but elegant, easy to make but looks like you put in lots of effort…

Banana Bread

100g sultanas
75ml bourbon or dark rum (or Marsala, which makes it smell heavenly)
175g plain flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
125g melted butter
150g sugar
2 large eggs
4 small, very ripe mashed bananas (about 300g when peeled)
Optional – about 60g dark chocolate, chopped roughly

Put the sultanas and chosen alcohol in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then let cool. Or, if you’re lazy like me, just zap them in the microwave. Mix the butter, sugar, eggs and bananas together, then fold in the dry ingredients. Finally, fold in the drained sultanas and chocolate and pour into a well greased and floured loaf tin. Bake at 170 C for about an hour, although it may need longer. I reserved the remaining dribble of Marsala that the sultanas had been warmed in and poured it over the cake as soon as it emerged from the oven.

Eat by the generous slabful. Not that I’d know or anything, but even if you overcook it slightly so it’s a bit too dark on top, it doesn’t seem to do any harm. In fact this cake stays serviceably moist for a couple of days after baking.

Surprise! A short, succinct post. It’s so short and lacking in banter that I don’t quite know what to do with myself, but since I’m not feeling overwhelmingly zany right now I might as well not try and force it. To be honest I’m pretty exhausted from travelling two weekends in a row and then starting full-time has been taking a lot of my brain-space. (“just because I get around”) I haven’t had any time to cook from the gorgeous Nigella Christmas yet – have hardly had time to cook at all to be honest – but I can’t wait to start chutneying it up – her chapter on homemade gifts is seriously inspiring!