cardamom chocolate chip banana loaf

I heart Donna Hay.  She is to me what … Martha & Nigella are to other people … I think she’s awesome (I also think her donna hay ipad app is pretty spectacular as well).

I heart that she makes things that I want to make, are easy to make, and that they actually turn out!  Plus … her food styling rocks my world.  Seriously … I’ve found myself thinking … how would Donna make this look?  It’s become a slight obsession.

And I’m totally cool with that.

Who wouldn’t want to make something that looks good?

And when you look at her recipes and realize … oh yeah – I can totally do that! 

Like this one.  It’s so simple … but so delicious.

I wouldn’t call this a banana loaf.  It’s more of a spice loaf with bananas on top … but it’s still delightful.  For realz.  This might become a new little gem in your recipe folder.  

Donna Hay’s original recipe was banana cinnamon breads.  I decided to change things up.  I flipped through my flavour bible and decided that pairing cardamom, chocolate chips and bananas would work well.

I was right (well … the flavour bible was right).

This is a real holiday recipe – spicy and sweet (the bananas and the chocolate chips) … plus it smells absolutely amazing while baking. 

And it’s good two days later … even when you’ve kept it in the fridge (I’m not a fan of keeping baked goods in the fridge … it sucks all the moisture out). 

Oh yeah … it’s super adorable – so again … another awesome hostess gift!  Or perfect for Christmas morning … or a couple of days after Christmas when you just want something good to eat without all the fuss.  This recipe will answer that need.

I decided to double the batch … I was seeing lots of friends and wanted to bring everyone a little lovin’ from my oven.  Doubling meant that I made 1 dozen mini loaves and 1 dozen extra large muffins.  Both turned out great – and their size meant that I was able to bake them in under 30 minutes.  AWESOME!

cardamom, chocolate chip & banana loaves / muffins

ingredients:

5 oz butter, room temperature

1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 c. almond meal (ground almonds … or hazelnut meal would work too)

1/3 c. buttermilk

1/2 tsp ground cardamom (or cinnamon if following the original recipe)

1/2 c. chocolate chips

2 bananas, sliced

melted butter for brushing

brown sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray your mini loaf pans, or muffin pans with non stick spray.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy – about 5 minutes.  Add the egg  – beating well. 

Turn off the mixer.  Add the flour, baking powder, almond meal, buttermilk, and cardamom and fold in until smooth.  Toss in the chocolate chips and stir until they are evenly distributed.Grab your ice cream scooper and scoop the batter into your pans – I used 2 scoops in both the loaf pan and the muffin pan molds. 

Grab your bananas and slice them.  As you can tell – slice them however you want … I think thicker is better – since they will be caramelizing as the batter bakes … and you want them to keep their shape.

Gently brush the melted butter on top of the banana slices, and then generously sprinkle brown sugar on top of the melted butter.

Done!

Bake for 25 minutes – they will be golden and smell ridiculously delightful (you might want to bake them a little longer … resist the urge – you don’t want them to dry out … don’t forget – since there is no banana in the batter, it’s not overly moist to begin with).

Remove from the pan mold immediately.  You don’t want them to keep baking.  Allow to cool on a wire rack … these are great warm from the oven … but equally delicious at room temperature.

I think I’m going to make another batch of these this week … only perhaps I’ll make them into mini-muffins and bring them into the office … or just save them for myself :0)

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apple cinnamon tea cake

 I have a thing for raw dough.

It’s a weakness I’ve had since … well as long as I can remember …

It was such a problem this year that I actually included no eating raw dough as one of the things I gave up for lent … and it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever given up (second to cheese – which was just a stupid sacrifice).

Anyway.  You might wonder what that has to do with this cake?

Well you see … this cake is all kinds of wonderful.

Not only does it look pretty darn impressive.  But it’s also lovely.  It’s the kind of cake that you just keep slicing away at … bit by bit… slice by slice until nothing is left :0) (that’s the kind of cake I like to have in my kitchen).

Not only is it good as dessert … it is especially good first thing in the morning.  Who doesn’t love cinnamon sugar and apples in the morning???

But the extra special part for me?

It’s that little bit of slightly undercooked batter … just around the apple.  It’s not raw … but it’s just a little less cooked then the rest of the cake (and don’t worry … the cake is otherwise fully baked).

I was super pleased with the final result.  I mean … I was actually able to recreate exactly what the recipe looked like in the book (modern classics 2) …

I didn’t twist anything up when I made this last weekend.  But I have ideas for the next time I make it (likely this weekend) … I’ll turn the  tea cake into muffins … selecting smaller apples so that they fit a cupcake pan mold.  And I will most likely add more spices to the cake batter … I’d like the batter to have just a little more punch of flavour: more cinnamon, plus nutmeg, cloves, mace and allspice … oh sigh.

Oh!  and I’m pretty sure I’ll be adding some bacon fat to the apples, along with the cinnamon sugar … oh that would be really good.

However … even without a single twist … this recipe is good.  It’s a solid cake  that will bring a smile to your face and make your tummy very happy.

apple and cinnamon tea cake

ingredients:

cake base

3/4 c. butter, room temperature

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I’d increase this to 1 tbsp)

1 tsp vanilla

2/3 c. sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 c. flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3 c. buttermilk

topping

4 apples, cored, peeled and halved

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 c. apricot jam, warmed

Preheat your oven to 325 F.  Generously spray your 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray (or butter the base and sides).  Set aside.

Cream together the butter, cinnamon, and sugar together in your stand-mixer – you want it to be light and fluffy – so mix about 3 to 4 minutes.  Scrape down the sides as needed.  You’ll notice that it will get quite pale as it becomes fluffier.

Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture, add the buttermilk and stir until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the pan.  Set it aside.

Now make your topping.  Cut a row of deep slits in each apple half (but don’t cut through the apple halves… they still has to stay in one piece).

Arrange each half over the top of the cake batter … it looks pretty awesome eh?Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the apples.

Bake in the middle of your oven for 50 minutes.  Remove the cake from the oven and brush the warmed apricot jam generously over the top.

Return the cake to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes (mine took about 75 minutes rather than 60 minutes to bake … but I used a slightly smaller cake pan, so it was a thicker cake … )

Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack, removing the sides of the pan after about 10 minutes.  If you’re serving this as a dessert, dress it up with a little heavy cream .. or serve it with some vanilla ice cream and a good drizzle of caramel sauce.  Or leave it as is.  It’s pretty awesome either way.