You know how if you take a banana cake batter and pour it into a loaf pan, what comes out is “banana bread”? Well, I don’t get it. Why is it bread when technically it’s just cake in a different shape? And bread doesn’t sound as much of a guilty pleasure; cake is all comfort and happiness and sweetness and nothing bad can happen when there’s cake around. “Banana bread” sounds like it should be good for us; banana cake is the exact opposite.

Banana Cake

The idea of this cake started a while ago. One day, just out of the blue, Blai decided that he’d like some fried bananas. I, of course, thought he meant pisang goreng (fried battered bananas, Malaysian style) but he was thinking much more simply – he craved plain sliced bananas tossed with a bit of sugar and fried in a bit of oil, nothing more. I was skeptical (and now craving pisang goreng) but went along with it and watched that night as he happily stirred together his banana slices at the stove, cooking them into a mush (that was a bit unexpected but our bananas were very ripe). But that mush, which he’d let caramelise in the pan, was utterly delicious!

Banana Cake

How marvellous for this fried banana to be incorporated into a cake, I thought, and here we are. I think it would be splendid with a couple handfuls of chocolate chips or chopped candied ginger or walnuts or pecans tossed in but Blai accuses me of over-complicating things. Ok, ok, perhaps I do overthink things so the cake was kept very simple here. (And do toss in any of the above if you like the sound of them!) I’m not sure if the flavour of the caramelised bananas does come through but I do know that it’s a delicious cake.

Banana Cake Slice

Oh, and I’m pretending that this was the beginning of my Chinese New Year baking, which is still nonexistent otherwise!

Banana Cake
Adapted from this recipe.
Makes one cake, 9×5 inches in size

2 tbsps butter
sunflower oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 small or 4 large bananas
1 tbsp white sugar

Preheat your oven to 175C.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and pour it into your measuring cup. Top up with oil until you have a 1/4 cup. Pour all into a large mixing bowl. (Feel free to change the ratio of melted butter-oil. You could even use all of one.)

Peel the bananas and slice them thinly. Toss them into the pan in which you melted the butter (no need to wipe it down) along with the 1 tablespoon of sugar and set on a medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the bananas have gone to mush and are starting to caramelise. Turn off the heat and let cool. (If you don’t feel like doing this step, just peel and mash the bananas with a fork or potato masher.)

Add the rest of the sugars to the bowl with the oil and butter and stir well. Break in the eggs and add the vanilla extract and continue stirring. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and combine. Finally, add the banana mixture and stir through to combine once more.

Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan (you might want to line the bottom too – ours popped out but with a bit of banging!). Pour the batter in and level it with a spatula. Bake 40-50 minutes, check after 40 – a skewer should come out clean. Let cool a bit and then turn it out onto a rack to cool fully. Tuck in!