Culinary Adventure: Banana Walnut Cake

Part of the reason why I started this blog is because I have recently found empowerment in running my own kitchen, and I want to keep track of my progress as well as sharing some ideas. Back when I was growing up, my mother would never let me go in the kitchen because “it was too small.” Even after we moved to a bigger place when I was 12, the kitchen was still entirely her territory. However, in the meantime, she would always taunt me for my lack of basic cooking skills. I guess I had a bit of complex about cooking from that. Fast forward to my life in Europe, the mother of the family I lived with till this July was a bit of a kitchen Nazi. She seldom let us do things in the kitchen either, and I was always eating what she prepared. Which is of course something to be grateful about, but I still never really got to cook.

I only really started cooking when I moved in with my boyfriend this July. He can cook too, but he always exaggerate when he does, preparing elaborate dishes which take 2 hours or more to get ready, or making the portion way too big. Just to be able to eat when I’m hungry, I took the task over. And guess what, I’m not going to deny receiving an education is empowering, but after having done that for the first 26 years of my life, I have found that running one’s own kitchen is no less effective in achieving empowerment. But that’s a debate I’m not going into right now. Right now I’m going to share my banana walnut cake recipe.

One of my friends went to Australia for a year, and met this girl whom was dubbed as the “banana walnut cake girl” in her dormitory. She was let in on the secret of banana walnut cake, and I got the recipe from her, so here we go:

125g unsalted butter, melted.
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
60g walnuts, chopped (I like the chunky texture so I broke them with my hands. If you like them finer you can easily pack them in tin foil or a zip-lock bag before smashing them with something heavy. Even rolling a beer bottle over them will do).
3-4 very ripe bananas (again, if you want to do this mess-free, you can wrap them in a zip-lock bag first. However, I just put them on a plate and smashed them to a pulp with a spoon)
175g flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate powder
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (I have homemade vanilla sugar, which I made by putting a vanilla pod into a jar of sugar, so I used it to replace some of the sugar you need for the recipe instead)

1. Preheat oven to warm 170˚. Lightly grease a loaf tin and line with baking paper (my tin is 26, 11.5, and 7cm. It’s just the right size for the amount of ingredients).
2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl with a whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy (this is the most laborious part. However, I have found that better-quality butter, which often comes in paper wrapping here in Europe, is softer and easier to work with). Beat in the egg one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
3. Mash the bananas and whisk into the mixture.
4. Add the walnuts and continue to whisk till well-mixed.
5. Fold in the dry ingredients, making sure to sift before adding to mixture.
6. Fold in the vanilla essence (which, as you already know, I didn’t do).
7. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 1hr or until a skewer (a knife or a toothpick will do) comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. Remove from the tin and turn out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool.

Leaving the cake to cool was actually the most annoying part. We sat there for hours, staring at the cake while inhaling the fragrance. The minute it was OK to cut it without ruining the whole cake, I did, and it was divine. My boyfriend did say it got better the next day, because it’s a bit crumbly when it’s not completely cool, but the carbohydrates-eating monster in me was satisfied and happy anyways.

Give it a try. It’s definitely better than any cake you can purchase, and it’s easy to do!
(Tango definitely agrees with me on this one. He is usually uninterested in human food, but he was sniffing this rather enthusiastically)

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