I buy bananas. I put them in the fruit bowl. They remain in the fruit bowl until their skins are black. I then put them in the freezer. This is not what I have in mind when I buy them. In my mind's eye I see them yellow, speckled lightly with brown and packed in a lunch box to sustain my children and husband through the rigours of the school/work day. The reality is that they prefer apples.
And that's why there were nine black bananas in my freezer. I vowed to stop buying bananas until I'd used them all up. Banana cake, or bread if you like, is the salvation of black bananas. I've made a few in my time.
Nigel Slater's version with chocolate chunks was excellent. I used pecans in place of the hazelnuts and chopped them roughly rather than grinding finely. Tom, who is very keen on banana cakes thought it was fantastic. Nigella Lawson's version with coconut and cherries from Kitchen was not so successful. Oversweet and undercooked. It wasn't done after the specified time, nor after another ten minutes, fifteen minutes after that I took it out of the oven. The first third of the cake was cooked but the middle was still a gooey mess. I put the remaining cake back in the oven for another twenty-five minutes after which it was still too moist. I like a moist cake but this was too much, even Tom didn't care for it. I ended up throwing it away which is something that has never happened before.
I decided to see what I could come up with. The crunch of nuts in the Nigel Slater cake combined very well with the squidge of the bananas- this is perhaps where the Nigella recipe went wrong. I had plenty of hazelnuts but walnuts and pecans would have worked just as well. I ground them coarsely in the food processor (hazelnuts are difficult to chop on a board), but you could put them in a bag and bash them with a rolling pin so that you get lots of different sized bits. You can't expect to make an edible cake by throwing random amounts of flour and sugar into a bowl so I used the Nigel Slater recipe as a framework and added some extra crunch to my cake in the form of a nutty crumble topping.
Black bananas freeze well for use in baking but not for much else. After a couple of minutes in the microwave they resemble giant slimy grubs.
Mash them with a fork quick before you start to feel queasy.
Banana-hazelnut crumble cake
Cream together with an electric whisk
6 oz (170g) soft butter
6 oz (170g) caster sugar
When light and fluffy add
2 beaten eggs
6 oz (170g) self-raising flour
Next stir in
2 very ripe bananas, defrosted if frozen and mashed
4 oz (110g) coarsely ground hazelnuts. I toasted mine first and rubbed off as much of the skins as I could in a tea towel.
Pour the mixture into a an 8 inch (20 cm) deep cake tin which you have base-lined and greased.
Now make the crumble
In a bowl put;
2 oz (55g) soft brown sugar
3 oz (85g) plain flour
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
2 oz (55g) coarsely chopped hazelnuts
Rub in 2 oz (55g) butter
stir in 2 oz melted butter
I rubbed in the butter which made the topping very crumbly and apt to fall off as you ate it. If you would prefer your crumble to stay put try the melted butter option which should produce a more clumped together topping. Both will be good.
Sprinkle the crumble over the cake mixture and bake at 180°c (160°c fan oven) for 1 hour - 1 hour 10 mins, or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean.
The result was moist but not too much, crunchy, nutty and very moreish.
Tom gave it the thumbs up.