Friday, 29 March 2013

a thursday cake + a common cold

nigel slater's banana chocolate muscovado cake
it’s wednesday. winter is dragging its feet. i have just finished evening classes on refugee law. tomorrow i have plans for a grand breakfast with my cake making and food loving friend t. i am thinking bloody marys and a stack of scotch pancakes at hawksmoor guildhall. but the winter season has other plans for me. the cold and cough that i have been pre-empting since last year has decided to make an appearance. i wake in the middle of the night to a familiar soreness that marks the onset of a cold.

my cough is notorious. when i was a little girl my paediatrician named it ‘kutay walli khansi’ (literally a dogs cough). this is an apt description because i am dogged by it for several weeks. now as a grownup i have to retreat to the doghouse that is the sofa bed so that o can sleep. my family and i have tried endless remedies. as a child my baba would rub powdered rock salt at the base of my throat. a family friend insisted on making me chew a large thimble sized piece of raw ginger. a teaspoon of honey showered with coarse black pepper at bedtime is a vain hope to keep me from coughing. but nothing, natural or allopathic has effect on my cough. it will run its course as it pleases.

so when a cold arrives i often fear that it will graduate into this infamous cough. i have to keep myself busy to quell the fear by doing things around the house. this time it was nigel’s chocolate muscovado banana cake that kept me occupied. it’s a pleasure to bake it. when done it assumes the form of a soft loaf with little bursts of chocolate. i’ve made it twice – once with slivers of chocolate and another with small dots of callets. the one in london was made with muscovado and the one in islamabad with local brown sugar.

black banana’s are essential to this cake. their over developed flavour strikes a pose against the brown sugars and dark chocolate. this is a cake that will make you want to let your bananas sit and fester till their skins blacken and you can smell their (almost sickly) sweetness. then pull out your scales, mixing bowl and ingredients and whip up the batter.

i know that cake is an unconventional cure for colds. i usually prefer soups of a clear constitution laced with a burst of sriracha and fresh chillies. but once in a while i want a loaf cake that i can have with tea. nigel’s chocolate muscovado banana cake is the perfect ticket. i had a thick slice from the still warm cake along with a cup of steaming hot cardamom infused tea. it definitely made me feel better.

just out of the oven
{nigel’s chocolate muscovado banana cake}

two hundred and fifty grams flour
two teaspoons baking powder
one hundred and twenty-five grams butter, softened
two hundred and thirty-five grams muscovado sugar
four hundred grams ripe bananas, peeled weight
one teaspoon vanilla extract
two eggs
one hundred grams dark chocolate, i used callebaut callets

pre-heat the oven to one hundred and eight degrees celsius. line a loaf tin with long strip of baking parchment that overhangs on the short ends.  set aside.

sifting the flour and baking powder together. put aside in a bowl.

mash the bananas with a fork. allow the bananas to keep a chunky texture rather than making a smooth puree. add the vanilla and give it a gentle stir. beat the eggs with a fork and gradually add to the creamed butter and sugar.

now fold the chocolate and banana mixture into the batter. try not to over mix so as to keep the texture of the bananas. gently fold in the sifted flour and baking powder till you get a smooth batter.

scrape the batter into a loaf tin. bake for around fifty minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out moist yet clean. if the batter is still quite wet continue to bake until done.

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