I made these so long ago that I had to re-make them in order to remember what on earth I even put into them. Classic. It also explains why the weather looks so bloody good in the photos - it was literally February when I made these. Luckily I did remember and they were just as good the second time around. If you're partial to the odd banana cake then I recommend giving these a hoon if you're in the mood for something a little bit more spesh.
Can I also say these are a good way to use up old hazelnuts.. (a total FWP if there ever was one). No one could taste they were past their best and instead only raved about how tasty they were. Now all I need is a good way to use up failed labneh making attempts aka kilos of slightly strained salty yoghurt... but that's another story.
Round two of these were made for a baby shower at work. I was peer pressured into making cake for the shared lunch. In reality all I wanted to make was devilled eggs because they are delicious AF and no one ever brings them because it is 2017 not the 50s. Hindsight told me that eggs would have been far more chilled. It was a rather hectic night making these actually. I finally got home and just as I was cracking the eggs into the mixer Dylan called telling me he would be late and didn't have smoked fish for the kedgeree he was supposed to make. This resulted in a last minute menu change which had me diving between pungent anchovy puttanesca and cake batter. Thank the lord there was no cross contamination there...
You can turn this recipe into a two layered 15cm cake, just split the batter into two lined pans and probably bake for closer to 35-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. You can also make these in wee mini loaf pans like I did for round two (the photo which features miserable looking grass in the background). Hell you could even use regular muffin pans rather than their Texan cousins. Just start at say 15 minutes for the bake time and add on 5-10 minute incriments depending on how gooey they are when you check them. The skewer is allowed to come out with crumbs stuck to it and when you put your ear to the cakes you should still be able to hear some sizzling. Sizzling means there is still moisture inside and as we all know, everybody likes a moist cake.
Also just a wee note on the icing.. Most of the sweetness comes from the muscovado sugar rather than icing sugar, because of this it can be a bit sloppy. I figure rustic cakes are in vogue right now so embrace the slop. If you are trying to make them a more structured you can up the icing sugar quantity and you will still get tasty icing. You can also keep them in the fridge, just take them out an hour or so before serving so that they can get back up to room temp.
Banana Hazelnut Cakes with Cream Cheese Muscovado Icing
Makes 8 wee loaves or 2 x 15cm cake layers or 6 Texan muffin sized cakes
For the cakes
125 butter, softened
3/4 (150g) cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups (170g) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 very ripe (380g) bananas, mashed
1 cup (100g) chopped, roasted hazelnuts (probably 2mm in size)
For the icing
40g butter, softened
150g cream cheese, softened
60g muscovado sugar
1 cup plus a little bit more of icing sugar
Salted caramel (recipe here)
Freeze dried raspberry pieces
Line and grease your chosen cake baking vessel and preheat your oven to 170g on bake.
Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until nice and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time and beat in on a high speed being sure to scrape the sides at regular intervals. If your mixture looks like it has split double check there isn't any left over unmixed butter at the bottom then just blast your mixer at full tit for a few minutes until a nice airy emulsion forms. Sieve in your flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix until just combined. Tip in the banana and the chopped hazelnuts and mix until a good trusty thick batter forms.
Scoop the batter into your preprepared tins and biff into the oven. For wee loaves bake for around 20 minutes. Test with a skewer or sharp knife and add three to five minute incriments until the skewer/knife just comes out clean. For Texan sized muffins start at 25 minutes and do the same exercise. For the larger cakes start at 35 minutes and add 5-10 minutes from there. I hope that makes sense.
Leave the cakes to cool in the tins (so they don't collapse), transfer to a wire rack after about half an hour. Leave to fully cool before icing.
To make the icing, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the muscovado until all the lumps dissolve. Add in enough icing sugar to reach your desired consistency. Fill up a piping bag and pipe on or dollop it on the old fashioned way.
If making these in advance you can store them in the fridge so your icing doesn't slop off the cake. Don't store them in there for more than a day though as they will go stale (a dick of a mechanism known as starch retrogradation). No one wants dry cake.