Creating a blog was out of the question for a long time for me, as measuring everything in the kitchen was like biting into an eggshell. I enjoy cooking and don’t want to waste even a slightest bit of enjoyment in that small world of mine. But little did I know that everything will change, when my husband came home with the Oscar nominated film ‘Julie and Julia’( a real life story) where Julie Powell (part played by Amy Adams) challenged herself to make all the 524 recipes from Julia Child's cook book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ and blogging all her experiences (The Julie/Julia Project). It was an inspiring movie. A few days later when we were discussing this casually with a friend of ours over tea…everything changed dramatically…..” How about you making at least half of it in one year? Not French but your own. 262 recipes that will inspire others and present it as a blog?” For a minute my mind traveled faster than light… With an experience as a helper in my mother in laws kitchen for 6 years followed by a three year everyday struggle to satisfy the palate of my foodie husband, if I cannot do it then why should I cook? But on the other side with an experience in English literature extending no more than expanding outline stories in English grammar class when I was 18 and two small kids that come in handy at times, will a commitment for the next one year work? Anyway my ‘cook's ego’ didn’t allow me to say no...

So my friends …here I am opening my recipe book, trying to perfect and present 262 recipes in the coming 365 days….A Challenge that will of course tastes good. Come.. Have a walk with me along my journey.. Cheering and inspiring….Forgiving and tolerating…Testing and tasting….for ‘A Tasty Challenge’

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Banana Nut Cake

Recipe No: 265
Well most of the Banana Cakes recipes bear very close resemblance to Banana Bread… But this one is very different and you will realize as you go through the ingredient list. This was made for our friend who was an absolute Banana Cake fan when he asked me to make a Cake without Butter and less Egg… but he wanted it soft and moist. So I made this using Oil, less amount of Egg and Caramel for extra moisture and flavor.

" I have been desperately hunting for a banana cake with caramel recipe. The objective was to replicate the taste of the banana cake that I buy from a real good bakery here in Chennai."

I got this request from one of the reader a few days ago and decided to do, as my Banana Cake recipe closely matches what she asked for… I have no idea how the Cake that she was mentioning tasted like, but still I hope this works Priya.. try this out...
Ingredients                                 Makes one 9 inch Cake
  • All Purpose Flour/ Maida….1 ½ Cups
  • Baking Soda………………….....1/2 Teaspoon
  • Baking Powder………………...1/2 Teaspoon
  • Cinnamon Powder…………...1/2 Teaspoon
  • Salt……………………………......1/4 Teaspoon
  • Sugar………………………....….2/3 Cups
  • Eggs…………………………....…2 (For those who want it a bit more healthy do use one whole Egg together with one Egg White)
  • Vegetable/ Canola Oil……...1/2 Cup
  • Vanilla Extract………………...1 Teaspoon
  • Banana…………………………...2 Big mashed / 1 Cup
  • Cashew Nuts…………………...1/2 Cup (dry roasted and chopped)
To make Caramel
  • Sugar……………………………..1/3 Cup
  • Hot Water…………………..….1/4 Cup
Method of Preparation
To Make the Caramel
  1. On medium heat, caramelize Sugar in a very dry pan till golden brown without stirring (swirl the pan now and then, stirring can make the Carmel gritty).
  2. Once golden brown, add hot water and let it mix properly by stirring. Switch off the heat and let it cool completely.
To make the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F/ 180˚C.
  2. Prepare a pan by buttering and flouring an 8 or 9 inch pan lined with parchment paper. (Or simply use cooking spray)
  3. Sift together Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Cinnamon Powder well; keep aside.
  4. Mix the toasted Nuts with a Teaspoon of the above Flour mixture and keep aside.
  5. Beat together Oil, Sugar, Eggs, Vanilla Essence, Caramel and Mashed Bananas really well until it is a homogenous mixture.
  6. Gently mix/fold in the Flour mixture to the above Oil Egg Banana mixture until just combined.
  7. Once mixed well, add the Nuts and stir till it is equally distributed.
  8. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake in the middle of the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted in the middle of the Cake comes out clean.
  9. Let it cool completely before serving. If you want to decorate it as a whole cake or as cupcakes, do use the Cream Cheese frosting.
  • I used 'Robusta' type Banana in this recipe. But if you are using the smaller ones please measure it after mashing.
  • If you are using freshly made Cinnamon Powder which tends to be very strong, use only less.
  • Don’t let the Caramel burn or the Cake will taste different.
  • If you use cold Water while making Caramel it will solidify the Caramel. In case if that happens, keep it on low flame and let the Carmel melt thoroughly. Add a bit more Water if needed.
  • To dry roast the Nuts, heat it in a dry pan on medium low heat until toasted and fragrant, stirring and turning often. Let it cool completely before using.
  • Traditionally Banana Cake uses Walnuts; but as Walnuts are hard to get in India, I used Cashew Nuts (and also I like them more!!).
  • Tossing the Nuts with some Flour will prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the pan..
  • Beat the Cake mix really well before adding the Flour. Once the Flour is added, (stop all the mixers at this stage if you are using one) fold it with a wooden spatula till it is combined. If beaten too much, the Flour will start developing Gluten which will make the Cake dry and hard.
  • Don’t open the oven often while baking. Sudden lowering of the temperature may cause the Cake to fall in the middle. So if you want to see how it is doing, please switch on the light and look through the glass panel (I mean, if it is possible.) If not, check the Cake only towards the end of the baking time.
  • Over baking will make the Cake dry. So stop baking once it is done.
  • The Caramel flavor in this Cake is subtle and will not over power the taste of Banana. If you want the taste of Caramel more, do make Caramel with 1/2 cup Sugar and 1/3 Cup Water.
  • This Cake is on the less sweet side as I used to frost it with Cream Cheese frosting. But still, I think the sweetness is adequate for having it with a cup of Tea or Coffee.

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…