I have a great love for England. When I was 18, I went to London to visit my older brother and I had a wonderful time exploring the city, slathering sinful amounts of butter on toasted slices of Soreen malt loaf and holey crumpets for breakfast, watching plays (Les Miserables, Woman in Black and Phantom of the Opera), having the best roast duck at Four Seasons and dim sum at another restaurant in Bayswater, dousing my fish and chips in malt vinegar, high tea at Fortnum and Mason, slurping down a warm Kinder Bueno milkshake at Greenwich, and taking the trains everywhere. To think I did all that and all my brother got in return was someone who did his laundry and ironing (and even then I managed to get the washing powder all over his clothes the first time around, woops)!
I met an English classmate during a particularly boring and tedious class in uni, and once we got to talking, it was awesome to be able to share with someone that love for London, banoffee pie and Soreen malt loaf, although I think I never quite understood his fascination with PG Tips tea. I also learnt about the iconic Terry’s Chocolate Orange from Sam. I think we both felt like we hit jackpot when my local Woolworths started stocking Soreen malt loaf and I bought some for him as well to tide him over until his supermarket began to sell them too.
Anyway, one of Sam’s many talents is baking, and besides making me the best banoffee pie on my birthday last year with shavings of chilli chocolate, he has shared with me his amazing recipe for banana cake. Now I’m not the only one who can attest to the wonders of his banana cake, which is deliciously rich and moist with that yummy banana flavour. It is also remarkably easy to make, and his only instruction was to mix the heck out of everything. Really, I did it with a fork! The first time I brought some of this cake home for Mom, she thought it was really good, with possibly enough bananas in it to feed five monkeys. In reality, there were only two and a half bananas! But in Sam’s words, ‘the key is the bananas being ripe as hell though to, the point of nearly being mouldy’.
There’s quite a bit of butter involved, as well as a mountain of brown sugar. At first, I was alarmed, and then I realised that the health freak in me does not care because it really is THAT earth-movingly delicious. The funny thing is how people often joke about how English food is boring; but with Nigella, Jamie, Heston and my wonderful friend, Sam, I don’t know what they’re talking about. The English are definitely doing something right!
Sam’s Banana Cake
Thanks to my friend, Sam!
2 1/2 very ripe bananas, mashed
200 g reduced salt butter, melted (or use half unsalted, half salted) + extra for greasing
1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raw sugar
a liberal splash of maple syrup (or maple-flavoured syrup)
Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius and grease and line a 9-inch cake tin.
Mix everything together in a large bowl.
Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 40 minutes. Poke the cake in multiple spots with a knife halfway through the baking time to make sure that the heat is getting through.
Remove from oven and let cool before slicing.