For my birthday this year I had the intention of making a chai-scented layer cake, with a vanilla frosting. While I love chai tea and thought these flavours would lend beautifully for a cake, I must admit that most of my inspiration for this cake came from how it would look. I had visions of a beautiful naked layer cake that I wanted to style to share with you here. I made purchased a cake two years back when I first launched my online Food Styling and Photography Guides and loved styling and photographing it for the promotional shots. As much as I love food, I love styling and photographing it as well; for me there’s something so rewarding about making delicious food that you put so much effort into making look beautiful and then capturing that moment.
But, there was a slight issue with my layer cake. I’m not the biggest fan of cake. Especially more traditional sponge-type cake with frosting. And therefore I don’t make that many cakes, so when I made my first attempt at the cake, to say it didn’t go so well is an understatement. The batter was a mess, completely unsalvageable, and had to be thrown in the bin. When you’re using good quality ingredients like I was, all of the organic butter and free-range eggs add up, and it turned out to be an expensive exercise.
It was at this point that I realised this cake wasn’t going to happen, and instead I should stick to the types of cake I know and love.
I’ve been playing around with banana breads and loafs recently after B went to the shops and bought 20 bananas. I often get annoyed with him when he only replaces food items after they have been completely eaten and we have gone a few days without having any of said food item in the pantry. So he decided to stock up on some pantry staples so we had good supply to last as a while. We now have a shelf full of jars of tomato puree, canned coconut cream, legumes and lentils… and 20 blackening bananas! Suffice to say there has been a lot of banana cake consumed the last two weeks… ;)
But back to this cake. I wanted bananas in it, but I was growing a little sick of the traditional banana bread. I had been thinking about the option of caramalising the bananas, and I loved the idea of a more dense cake with coconut and almond meal.
When I threw all these ideas together, the result was a coconut-flecked cake with a beautiful, slightly dense crumb, topped with sticky caramel bananas. It was decadent and rich – and perhaps slightly sweeter than I would normally take my sweets, despite cutting down the amount of sugar. But hey, what are birthdays for if not indulging a little?
The downside of this cake is that it is not the beautiful frosted layer cake I had originally envisioned, but rather a somewhat dark, sloppy-looking unphotogenic cake. But what this cake lacks in physical beauty it definitely makes up for in flavour.
This cake is best served warm with a dollop of thick cream.
- 70g butter
- 100g coconut sugar
- ½ pod fresh vanilla
- 3 large, ripe bananas, halved lengthwise
- 150g butter, melted
- 80g shredded coconut
- 150g plain flour
- 30g almond meal
- 3 eggs
- 50g sugar
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 170 C | 340 F
- To make the caramel, put the butter and sugar in a small saucepan over low to medium heat until the butter has melted and it has formed a thick paste. Stir in the vanilla.
- Pour into a greased 23cm|9" springform cake tin and layer the bananas on top. Set aside.
- Melt the butter and honey together in a small saucepan.
- Add all the dry ingredients except for the sugar into a bowl and stir to combine.
- Beat the eggs and sugar at high speed in a mixer until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and add in the dry ingredients a bit at a time.
- Reduce speed to low and pour in the melted butter and honey mixture in a slow stream.
- Gently pour into the prepared pan on top of the bananas and spread evenly.
- Bake 30 - 40 minutes. Check after 25 minutes - if the top is too brown at this stage, cover with foil for the remaining cooking time.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a serving plate.
- Best served warm, but is also nice at room temperature.