What is it about bank holiday weekends that causes people to become quite such assiduous lawn-mowers? I seem to have spent all day listening to the blasted things: our next-door neighbour, for example, is now mowing his grass for the second time, today. Perhaps I do him an injustice, but as the next house along now has a large hole instead of a lawn (foundations for an extension, rather than anything more sinister (tunnelling, explosives testing, localised natural gas build-up – all these things are commonplace in Bath, you know)), I am disinclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Even John has got the mower out, an event which is only slightly more remarkable than if I were to do so, having never so much as started up a lawnmower in my life. I had been quite enjoying the dandelion patch (much more cheery than a boring old square of grass, no?) but John and the lawnmower seem to have ganged up on me while I was out, and instead I am being mollified with a G&T on our newly re-acquired lawn after a day which started with a slice of this banana cake and only got better from there. If only the same could be said for bank holiday radio playlists. Boyzone? Really? There’s no excuse.
This banana cake is the first one I ever tried, aged 20-ish, and so – not having had time to acclimatise myself to the fact that all otherwise sane people inexplicably fill their banana cakes with walnuts – every time I pick up a slice of someone else’s, I am bitterly disappointed to find that what I thought was chocolate is in fact – yuk – walnut. Can there be any more crushing realisation?
I can just about cope with a banana cake with neither chocolate or walnuts in – this one is particularly good, for those of you who can’t bring yourself to put anything as sacrilegious as chocolate into a banana cake, but really, can I implore you to reconsider? This comes together in about a second and a half, and happily lasts the week. It’s neither too sweet nor too wholesome-tasting (minimal sugar, oats, but also chocolate), moist from the oil and the bananas, and with little pockets of melted chocolate. It is one of my absolute favourite cakes, and should be one of yours, too.
A word on the bananas: it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that the best kind of bananas to make cake from are the slightly manky-looking, brown-spotted ones. For years, this meant that however much I wanted banana cake that very day, I had to go and buy bananas and then wait
three whole days an interminable amount of time before I could make my cake. No more! A quick expedition to the local A1 cash-and-carry (or however your local ethnic grocer’s calls itself) should yield as many bananas in as many shades of yellow and brown as you could possibly want.
vicky’s banana cake
Adapted slightly from the Waitrose website, via my friend Vicky. Makes one small-ish loaf.
1 large egg
75ml vegetable oil
125g caster sugar
3 over-ripe bananas, finely sliced
30g rolled oats
150g plain flour (I have used wholemeal to good effect, if I’ve been feeling particularly virtuous)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
40g dark chocolate, chopped (but really, this is no time for over-accurate weighing)
Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C (170˚ fan).
Whisk the egg, oil and sugar together until the whisk leaves trails in the mixture, then whisk the bananas into the mix. Fold in the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a lined loaf tin, and bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.