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Banana Chestnut Coffee Cake

That’s the first full-on week back at school conquered. Hearing the groans to early clockwork mornings is waning so I guess that means we’re gradually adjusting to routine. I put it down to bananas and this Banana Chestnut Coffee Cake.

Brought up calling bananas “brain food”, I stocked up on them last weekend for a quick, healthy energy boost to slice on our favourite breakfast maple granola. Except Julie refused the bananas. Lucie explained that Julie loves this banana cake so much for breakfast that she deliberately leaves them to ripen so there’s an urgent excuse to make this!

banana chestnut coffee cake

Baking with Chestnut Flour

I discovered this recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Nigellissima and loved her ingenious addition of coffee powder to banana bread, to give it an Italian touch.  I don’t normally have sweet cake for breakfast but in Corsica, my mother-in-law often makes a chestnut cake using chestnut flour.  As farine de chataigne is a pretty strong-flavoured flour, we normally mix it with plain flour.  And so this recipe has gradually adapted to our tastes, as we cut down the sugar by half to accommodate the rustic chestnut flavour and give it our Corsican touch.

banana chestnut coffee cake

Banana Chestnut Coffee Cake

Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Italian Breakfast Banana Bread, from Nigellissima. I have more than halved the sugar content (replaced caster sugar with soft dark brown), used chestnut flour, plus reduced the oil to compensate for these ingredients. If you prefer to make this gluten-free, then omit the plain flour and use 170g chestnut flour. To make muffins, pour the mixture into a greased 1×12 muffin tin (or silicone brochette moulds, so no greasing necessary) and bake for 20 minutes at 200°C (gas mark 6).

3 medium bananas, very ripe
100ml /3.5 fl oz neutral-tasting oil (grape seed/sunflower) oil
pinch salt
2 medium eggs
50g / 1.75oz soft dark brown sugar
100g / 3.5oz plain flour
75g / 2.5oz chestnut flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
30g / 1oz chopped walnuts (optional)

4 tsps instant espresso powder

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/340°F (gas mark 3). Lightly oil a 450g/1LB loaf tin or no need to oil if using a silicone loaf mould.

2. Mash the bananas to a purée, add the salt and beat in the oil.  Beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the soft brown sugar.

3. Sift the chestnut flour and gradually beat it into the mixture, adding the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, coffee powder and walnuts (if using).

4. Pour the batter into the loaf tin, place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until slightly coming away at the sides and bunglingly risen. A cake tester should come out clean.

5. Leave the cake in the tin for about 20 minutes, then turn out on to a wire tray to cool.

Leave the cake or muffins overnight as they’ll taste even better in the morning.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The muffins/cake also freeze well for up to 3 months; just defrost the night before.