BEST BANANA CAKE & EASY BANANA MUFFINS

Banana cake is universally loved by children and adults. A good banana muffin should be moist and springy. Light yet banana-ey with enough substance to leave you satisfied after one serve. A seriously good banana cake will keep for days and improve in flavour in that time. But what separates the good from the bad in the bunch (I know! look at me and my banana puns!) is the icing on the cake. Everyone knows about chocolate frosting and cream cheese icing. Been there, ate that - those taste better on choc and carrot cakes imho. But for a badass banana cake to truly shine, you need to dial down the condiments to explore the texture. This is a naughty cake, nowt healthy about it. It is full of sugar and carbs - but it's worth it for the lemon drizzle and white chocolate glaze. It will blow ya mind.

This easy banana cake recipe requires loads of overripe bananas. Actually, any banana cake recipe really deserves overripe bananas, Not only is baking with yellow, green or underripe bananas a total waste of perfectly good bananas for school lunch boxes, the tannins taste like kak and ruin a perfectly good cake. I always think recipes are pretty laughable when measure by number of fruits. Like any two banana bunches yield the same amount of flesh. My advice is get a couple bunches because you want about 2 -2.5 cups when you've cut out all the yucky bruised parts and its all mashed up.

Did I mention the gf/df version of this cake is actually better? Waaaaaay better. The gluten-free, dairy-free version is denser, moister and more satisfying, especially in loaf form. It keeps for days fyi and genuinely truly needs no icing. Which is mental cus I am a fiend for icing. But the luscious toothy texture is completely mesmerising with the buttery sponge interspersed with chocolate drops. Its still massively naughty but less taxing on the old conscience. Obv white chocolate compounds contain milk solids and dark choc chips do not - in saying that cadbury and nestle both add milk solids to their dark choc drops, so read your labels before you start baking.

You'll need 2 overfilled cups of mashed bananas. As stated before, that could be 5 bananas, it could be 10. I dunno, use your eyes. I can't shop for you. Maybe your bananas are thin and long, maybe they are thick and stubby. Its not the size that counts but how you use them. Trim the ends and remove all the yucky bruisy parts - they just make your cakes deteriorate faster. And then mash them up so you can accurately gauge the volume - using an egg beater is faster than going in with a fork.

One of the best things about going gluten free - you cannot overmix your baking recipes. Which is amazing for the time poor and those with fussy kids who don't like "bits" in their baking. Essentially folding or any kind of gentle mixing is a work around to avoid activating the gluten. No gluten? No worry! So I really get stuck in with the gf/df version and use the egg beater to really thoroughly combine the ingredients but I advise using a big spoon and a generous bottom-to-top-round-the side scooping action for the plain flour & dairy version.

Preheat your fan-forced oven to 170 degrees celsius

Ingredients:

2 overfilled cups of mashed bananas (2 will do but bananas are imprecise measures, so more is more)

2 tsp vanilla (paste, extract, flavour - whatever you have in your cupboard or skip it if you have none)

1 cup of coconut oil or 250g of butter or butter alternative of your choice

1 cup of brown sugar (you can add another 1/2 cup here if you need, but I'd just add more banana)

4 free range eggs

2 cups of plain flour (Gluten Free: 1 cup organic coconut flour, 1 maize cornflour)

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

- optional extra: mix soda into 1/2 cup of warm milk or non-dairy alternative. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don't. Its actually not necessary but sometimes I like the added flavour of a coconut milk and if making the regular (non gf/df) version, it helps disperse the baking soda more evenly.

GF/DF version: 1 packet of dairy free dark chop drops, chunks or melts

1. Add vanilla to the bowl of mashed/beaten bananas and set aside.

2. In another bowl, cream the oil/butter and sugar.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the creamed sugar mix.

4. Add the vanilla bananas to the mix and combine.

5. If you are doing the milk/soda thing, add it now. Otherwise, sift in your flours, baking powder and soda. Gently fold in for the regular recipe or mix thoroughly with the packet of chocolate chips if following the gf/df version.

note: regular recipe fill to 2/3s as it rises like a mofo. Gf/df version, you can fill to 3/4 or 4/5 full. It still rises really well because of the double rising agent but it's different in the way that gf/df always is.

Now 1 portion of this will fill:

1 large cake tin (allow 50-55 min)

2 medium cake tins (allow 40-45min)

1 mini muffin tray (10 min) + 12 muffins (15min) + 1 banana loaf (15-20min)

The great thing about this recipe is the colour and size is a really good indicator. If it is golden brown on top and nice generous height, its probably time to do a skewer test. If its still looking a little flat and pale, come back again in 5 minutes before opening the oven to do a skewer test.

White Chocolate Lemon Icing - wait until cakes have cooled

1 packet white chocolate melts or block of your fave white chocolate

1 large NZ lemon or 2 small imports

1. Take all the rind off the lemon while your choc is melting on a pot / in the microwave on 30s blasts

2. When the melts have finally melted set aside while you juice the lemon.

3. Stir in lemon juice and most of the rind to the chocolate. Keep some rind for decoration.

4. Spoon over the muffins / cake / loaf completely covering the top and allow to drip down the side.

5. Garnish with remaining lemon rind

Served hot or cold iced or uniced, the loaf is amazing sliced and toasted with butter on the regular version - the gf/df version needs nothing further... the dark choc chips melt again and its like heaven!

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