I love this recipe. Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another and then mix the two. The ganache was to be whisked too, for a fluffier frosting, but I couldn't wait. Besides it was one of those times when I wanted a gooey shiny dark frosting. This cake is soft without being chiffony, very moist, devilishly chocolaty and wonderfully scented with the natural essence of bananas. I served it as an American sheet cake, one layer with frosting. It was a big hit even with my Fussy Eater.
The second time I made the cake, everything went wrong. I couldn't get Valhorna cocoa powder or dark Lindt chocolate and I ran out of self-raising flour (the original recipe called for plain flour but I made the first cake using SR flour) because I doubled the recipe last minute as I had a lot of ripe bananas. Then when the ingredients went into the bowl, I found that I didn't have enough sugar too and in the heat of the afternoon, I didn't want to rush out to get it so I carefully removed 1/4 of the recipe amount and prayed for the best. Of course it didn't work, especially when the cake tin was too small for 1 1/2 recipe amount. The cake took 1 hour 20 minutes to cook, resulting in a dry, slightly bitter and coarser cake. And I had to serve it to guests whom I really wanted to impress! I don't know if that happens to you but it does to me, all the time.
What I've learnt: use the best ingredients and the right cake tin and do not reduce the sugar amount beyond 1 1/4 cups for one recipe because the large amount of cocoa powder can make the cake bitter, fine if you like bitter chocolate like we do. As for the bananas, if you can only get those perfect Del Monte bananas, too bad for you. Those beautiful, flawless-skinned but bland and boring bananas are the reason why some people dislike bananas. Grown by the hundreds of hectares and because they need to be shipped out, those perfect bananas are harvested when still very unripe whereas the local bananas are cut nearer to their ripening stage. Most bananas here are grown commercially too but on a very much smaller scale. There are dozens of varieties of bananas here, each with a slightly different flavor, texture and appearance. They are usually mottled and speckled but I think that gives them character. I love the green-skinned bananas that are extremely fragrant and green even when ripe (the greener the sweeter), the popular sweet pisang emas (golden bananas), the sweet and smooth pisang raja (king bananas) and the 'powder bananas', which have silky-smooth sweet flesh and smooth skin that look powdered but are less suitable for baking because of the weaker flavor. Berangan bananas are now the most easily available variety of bananas in KK and I dislike them because despite good flavor, they are very dry.
This recipe was from The Joy Of Baking. The recipe makes great cupcakes too and the frosting for that is a butter cream instead of a ganache.
Up: 'Keling' bananas, down: golden bananas
Green-skinned bananas are rare.
Chocolate Banana Cake
1 3/4 cups (240 gm) plain flour*
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 cup (90 gm) unsweetened Dutch-processed chocolate powder
1 1/4 cups (about 250 gm) caster sugar**
1/4 t salt (reduced from 1/2 t)
1 cup (3 to 4 local bananas) very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 (120 ml) cup fresh milk
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola or corn oil
2 large eggs
1 t pure vanilla extract
*I used self-raising flour and 1 t baking soda
**original recipe called for 2 cups
1. Oven at 180 C. Grease a 9" x 11" or 9' x 13" rectangular pan.
2. Sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder into a medium-sized bowl. Add the sugar and mix well.
3. Put the mashed bananas, milk, water, oil, eggs and vanilla into a large bowl and whisk with a hand whisk until well-blended.
4. Put the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well. The mixture will be very runny.
5. Pour into the baking pan and bake about 40 to 45 minutes for the 9 " x 13 " pan or 50 to 55 minutes for the 9" x 11" pan. Stick a wooden skewer into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, cake is done. Do not overbake. Cool completely in the tin and turn out when cooled, or you can leave it in the tin and frost it that way.
The Ganache Frosting
6 oz (original was 8 oz/227 gm) quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
140 ml (original was 3/4 cup/180 ml) dairy cream
1/2 T butter (original 1 T)
--Put the choc into a heat-proof glass bowl and place the bowl over a small pot of boiling water. When the choc begins to melt, add the cream and the butter, stirring until all the chocolate is melted. Remove from the fire. When still warm but not hot, pour over the cake. If you want a fluffier and more voluminous frosting, cool the ganache completely and then whisk until light and fluffy. Spread over the cooled cake.
Choc Fudge Frosting for Cupcakes
3 oz (90gm) unsweetened dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (113 gm) butter, room temp but firm
3/4 cup (90 gm) icing sugar*, sifted
1 t pure vanilla extract
*original recipe is 1 cup/120 gm.
1. Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Cool.
2. Beat the butter with a hand-held whisk until smooth and creamy. Add the icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the melted chocolate until smooth and glossy, about 2 -3 minutes on medium speed.