Banana and Toffee Sticky Cake
TOFFEE IS A BIT OF A RASCAL, and delights in making a mess and then running to hide. Luckily, banana is unfazed and copes with this tricky behaviour in its usual horizontal style. This is not a household with much shouting, although plenty of squealing and peals of laughter seem to ring around the staircase and echo in the bathroom.
- 3 medium free-range eggs
- 160g light Muscovado sugar
- 250g peeled and finely grated butternut squash
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 50g white rice flour
- 100g ground almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 80g brazil nuts, roughly chopped (or use pecans or macademias)
- 150g banana, peeled and finely sliced
- For the syrup:
- 50g unsalted butter
- 100g golden syrup
- 3 tbsp boiling water
- You will need:
- a 22cm-square x 5cm deep brownie tin
- a timer
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line the base of the tin with baking parchment. Grease the parchment and the sides of the tin with a little butter.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and cappuccino coloured (roughly 5 minutes on full blast). Beat in the grated butternut squash and vanilla extract with the whisk until well combined.
3. Whisk in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt until smooth. Finally, with the help of a spatula, mix in the brazil nuts and banana (reserve a small handful of banana slices for the top).
4. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin. Dot the reserved banana slices over the top of the cake (flat, so that they look like circles) before placing the cake in the oven for 35 minutes.
5. Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and let it stand to cool in its tin while you make the toffee syrup.
6. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter and the golden syrup with the water on a low heat until the butter has become liquid. Turn up the heat and, once boiling point has been reached (when the surface is covered in smallish bubbles), continue to boil hard for 3 minutes exactly. For anyone who is unsure about making toffee or hasn’t done it before, I have included a foolproof step-by-step explanation below.
7. Once the 3 minutes are up, take the pan off the heat immediately and beat the bubbles out of the mixture, which should take no longer than 30 seconds.
8. Drizzle the hot liquid over the cake quickly, which couldn’t be happier for the warm, sticky syrup. I tend to tilt the cake in its tin left, right, back and forth whilst the toffee is still hot and runny to get it spread over the surface. If you go and answer the telephone even for 10 seconds, you will have missed the boat and the toffee will refuse to move, let alone run. If this happens, I’m afraid that the only thing to do is start the toffee stage again and curse yourself for thinking that you could outwit the stuff.
9. Once the toffee has drenched the top of the cake, let it stand to sink in for 10 minutes before serving. This is heaven with vanilla or toffee ice cream, or Crème au Rhum.
TRUST ME TIPS
The cooked cake will come out of the oven looking a bit like an Aero chocolate bar on the surface and will be very springy to the touch. This is totally normal and no cause for concern.
Step-by-step guide to making toffee sauce in 3 minutes
Taming toffee requires confidence. Dissolve the butter with the other ingredients on a medium heat, then turn the heat up to reach full boil. Start the timer for 3 minutes. Each stage lasts roughly one minute and you can expect the progression in the pan to go as follows:
1. The first stage of boiling will provide you with an angry mixture, made up of lots of little see-through bubbles that rise quickly to the surface of the liquid. They will huff and puff out their chests and get bigger. They will want to creep up the sides of the pan and escape, but won’t succeed in a medium-sized pan. My pan is only 9cm deep and my toffee hasn’t bubbled over yet.
2. At the second stage, you can expect slightly smaller (medium-sized) bubbles that don’t come so far up the pan and are less angry than before. They will gradually accept defeat and retreat down the sides. The colour will start to turn from butter yellow to golden caramel.
3 . The final stage is gloss and gloop. Although the bubbles have pride, and will therefore still be simmering with rebellious defiance at the bottom of the pan, they are not on the attack any more. The smell in the kitchen will be completely of melted butter.
4. When your timer bleeps to signal that 3 minutes are up, take the pan off the heat immediately. Whisk the bubbly mixture vigorously with a balloon whisk until the bubbles have completely disappeared and the battle is over.