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Merry midwinter: Banana cardamom cake 

I have been after a true banana cake for a while now; one that tastes and smells like a freshly peeled banana, without the too-sweet stickiness that comes from using overripe fruit. Of several versions, I am pleased enough with this one to share it.


375g bananas (peeled weight)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

200g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

a pinch salt

90g golden caster sugar

90g light muscovado sugar

2 eggs

4 tablespoons groundnut or vegetable oil


10 green cardamom pods

2 tablespoons golden caster sugar

  • Set the oven at 170C/gas 3-4. Line a square 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.
  • Break the bananas into short chunks, then put them into a bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Avoid the temptation to turn them into a purée. Stir in the lemon juice.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Break open the cardamom pods, remove the dark brown seeds, then crush them to a fine powder using a pestle and mortar. Mix them with the 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and set aside for later.
  • Put the golden caster and muscovado sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Break the eggs into the sugar, then beat, using the whisk attachment, for three to four minutes, until light and creamy. Pour in the oil, slowly, with the mixer on a moderate speed.
  • Fold the flour and baking powder into the mixture with a large metal spoon or by changing the whisk attachment to a flat paddle beater. Fold in the crushed bananas, briefly, taking care to distribute them evenly but without crushing them any further.
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin, using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the surface with the sugar and cardamom mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until lightly firm on top. Remove from the oven and leave to settle, in its tin, for about 20 minutes.
  • Lift the cake from its tin, then place on a rack and leave to cool. Cut the cake into three equal rectangles, then cut those into four to give 12 small pieces. I serve these first as cake in its own right, and then as a dessert with a tropical fruit salad (see the book).