I’m going to come clean with you. To call this recipe a “bread” is really a bit of a stretch. In truth, it’s a full-on sugar-loaded decadently-brilliant-with-tea cake.
I found this recipe a month or two back and followed it right down to the pecan crumble. Since then, I have experimented with it using an all walnut crumble, a hazelnut crumble, and a mixture of both. I’ve also replaced the banana in the cake with grated carrot, and it worked an absolute treat. I shared the walnut crumble recipe in this weekend’s Naughty or Nice column in The Irish Independent, as my naughty nutty recipe to match Aoife Barry’s Cinnamon Roasted Cashews.
In the interest of full disclosure, it’s a bit fussy to make. But only due to the fact that you need, like, five different dishes for the mixing and whisking and mashing that it entails. Not at all difficult, but I would recommend you read the recipe carefully before getting stuck in, so you’re prepared for the different stages and have all of your tools ready. The result is a light and fluffy cake, easily enjoyed at practically any time of the day. Homnomnom.
One of the extra touches to this cake is the whisking of the egg whites. It really makes for a lighter cake so it’s a step well worth doing, even if you have to do it *gasp* by hand and not with an electric whisk.
What you need for a Banana Cake with Walnut and Hazlenut Crunch
250g golden caster sugar
250g self-raising flour
140g walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts (or a mixture of all three), roughly chopped
1 tbsp butter
2 free-range eggs, plus 2 egg whites
3 large ripe bananas, or 4 small, mashed (or you can use 3 or 4 carrots, finely grated if you prefer carrot cake, which works particularly well with an all walnut crumble)
150ml sunflower oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas Mark 4.
Line a 23cm x 30 cm rectangular cake tin with baking paper.
Measure out the sugar and self-raising flour into two little bowls. Chop the walnuts/pecans/hazlenuts.
In a small bowl, mix together two tablespoons each of the sugar, flour and chopped nuts. Add one tablespoon of butter and rub together with your fingers until a crumble has formed. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add the remaining sugar, flour and nuts and mix.
In another mixing bowl, use a fork to mash the bananas.
In a measuring jug, mix together the sunflower oil, milk and the two whole eggs. Don’t worry, it will look kind of gross, as if the milk has curdled. Now add this mix to the mashed banans and mix well.
Now, whisk your egg whites until just stiff.
Next, mix the banana mixture into the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and nuts) until well blended. Finally, use a large metal spoon to gently fold in the egg whites to the cake mixture.
Pour into the lined cake tin. Sprinkle the nut crumble over the top and bake in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until the crumble has turned golden and a skewer comes out of the middle of the cake totally clean.
Leave on a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting. This will keep for a few days if kept in a sealed container and is delicious served warm and cold. Enjoy!