Chocolate Banana Malt Loaf
I've been making this banana loaf for a few years now, it's a good'un! One of the cakes that casual amateur bakers will happily attempt is banana bread, it's just a generational gem, and there are a shit-tonne of recipes out there for it. It's very confusing knowing which one to have a go at. Most recipes I've tried in my baking history have ended up being incredibly dry and dusty loafs, or far too dense and chewy. I personally never found one that was just right, I tried a lot of methods and ingredients with varying success and have had to piece it together with trial and error - it took years - now I have the one I am confident with and has not disappointed yet.
This banana loaf incorporates bananas two-ways: mashed and chopped. I add mashed bananas for dampness and chopped bananas for melting clumps within the cake. This creates an interesting variance in texture slice-per-slice I think, instead of just a boring, homogenous slice of vacant cake; loaf cakes easily fall victim this. Each slice is balanced with moist cake, fudgy banana chunks and crunchy cocoa nibs.
Secondly, I add chocolate, again, two-ways: I add cocoa nibs to the cake batter and thick chocolate ganache on the top of the finished cake. Cocoa nibs add a lovely crunch and subtle speck of chocolate without being overly rich. I add chocolate ganache in honour of my favourite cafe, Blue Sky Café Bangor. They used to make a large banana cake every now and again that was glazed with thick chocolate ganache and it was super indulgent - I decided to copy this indulgent touch and found it to be extremely popular with people I fed it to.
Finally I add some autumnal flavour in the form of malt. You can buy jars of malt extract in most supermarkets - typically health shops - and it's a delicious flavouring that I use heavily during autumn and winter; it's very good for you too. If you cannot get malt, Horlicks powder is the next best thing. Malt adds a comforting and toasty flavour without compromising the flavour of the bananas. I should say also: definitely use ripe bananas for this cake. They don't need to be all brown and spotty - apparently the flavour of the cake is exactly the same whether you use simple yellow bananas or dark brown and mushy ones - just make sure they have no hint of green on their skins.
CHOCOLATE BANANA MALT LOAF
- 250g Plain Flour
- 150g Light Brown Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Malt Extract (or 3 tablespoons Horlicks whisked with 2 tablespoon water)
- 100g Butter
- 75ml Oil
- 2 Eggs
- 100ml Buttermilk (or Natural Yoghurt)
- 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
- 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 50g Cocoa Nibs
- 3 large, ripe Bananas
- 100ml Double Cream
- 100g Dark Chocolate
- 1 tablespoon Caster Sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 160C. Take a loaf tin and grease it generously with butter.
- We begin by preparing the wet and dry ingredients separately. Let's start with the wet. In a measuring jug, add 100g of butter and microwave until completely melted. Add in 75ml of oil (any flavourless oil: vegetable, sunflower, etc), 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of malt extract (or Horlicks paste), 100ml of buttermilk and 2 eggs. Whisk everything together until combined into a single mixture.
- Now we prepare the dry ingredients. Into a mixing bowl add 250g of plain flour, 150g of light brown sugar, 50g of cocoa nibs, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and 1/2 teaspoon of Salt. Mix until everything is combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat together until combined into a batter and no lumps are visible.
- Take your three bananas - mash two of them in a bowl until a smooth paste, and simply chop one of them into coins, Add both into the cake batter and gently fold them until evenly incorperated into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the greased loaf tin and place into the middle of the oven. Bake at 160C for 55-60 minutes. Take out of the oven and stick a piece of spaghetti into the centre. If it comes out clean, without any batter, it is cooked through.
- Once the cake has cooled, we can make the chocolate ganache. Heat 100ml of double cream in a pan until almost boiling. Turn off the heat, add 100g of dark chocolate and leave to stand for a minute and melt in the heat of the cream. Stir until all of the chocolate has melted into the cream - you should notice it thicken right away. If you like it a bit sweeter, like milk chocolate, add 1-2 tablespoons of caster sugar and stir into the ganache. While still warm, pour the ganache over the top of the banana cake in its tin, spreading it to the edges and leaving to cool and set for an hour before slicing. Decorate with crunchy banana chips and prepare to wow!