In my opinion there’s nothing quite like coming home from a disappointing or stressful day to find a treat of some sort from your other half waiting for you. My treat of choice would always be a big bag of Cadburys Giant Buttons, because obviously any treat made from Dairy Milk chocolate that’s been turned into perfectly sized little mouthfuls is absolute heaven (duh), and also because they remind me of when I was 18. Over the weekend I would do some work in a shop, and occasionally during my lunch break The Boyfriend (who I’d known for a mere few months back then) would swing by the shop and deliver unto me a bag of Giant Buttons which I’d then pop in my pocket and nibble on throughout the afternoon to keep me energised and on my feet (this was before I’d discovered the joys of coffee). Whenever I have them now they remind me of those exciting early days of our relationship, and even though 11 years have passed since the days of Button deliveries, they’re still the chocolate he’ll grab for me when I’m in dire need of chocolate. Of course, our relationship is still exciting, although more in a ‘pajamas on by 7pm, Netflix on the telly and hot chocolate in hand’ kind of exciting, which is totally the best kind.
Last week then it was my turn to deliver the goods. He’d trekked down to Wembley only to watch his football team lose, and after keeping an eye on the score on Twitter I knew he’d need a pick me up on his return home. Cakes containing banana are his favourite, and after paying a lot of money to end up miserable and then being thoroughly rained on, I felt there was really only one kind of cake that might possibly lift his heavy heart. Banana and chocolate upside down cake sounded right up his street, and I certainly wouldn’t kick it out of bed myself. I found this recipe while browsing through the Delicious magazine website – it’s a brilliant food magazine but I’ve so many cookbooks that I can’t really justify buying it anymore, so the website will have to suffice – and knew straight away that this was just the cake for my disappointed love. Once the baby was tucked up in bed I set to work, starting with making the sugary syrup that sits at the bottom of the cake tin caramelising the bananas. The syrup was simply sugar, butter and maple syrup melted down over a gentle heat and then poured into a springform cake tin. Halve some bananas, place in the syrup and then pour over the cake batter (which is made in one bowl, bonus, and contains mashed up banana and plenty of chocolate chips) then bake in the oven. The tricky bit is upturning the tin once the cake is cooked without getting cake all over your kitchen, but I managed to do it and I’m the least dextrous person there is, so you really have no excuse.
What’s revealed is a golden brown sugary topping with soft sweet bananas topping a delicious cake. The syrup is obviously sweet, with a strong taste of maple which is an absolute classic of a pairing with bananas. Much as I would have liked to use the real stuff, proper Canadian maple syrup is crazily expensive for the small jar you get, so I used maple flavoured syrup by the same people who make golden syrup, and let’s be honest, when you’re cooking with it in a cake you really don’t notice the difference. I had some proper maple syrup which I brought back from New York a couple of years ago, and when served on top of pancakes you know you’re getting the real deal, but for baking it really isn’t worth the expense. I know from bitter experience after I made pear and maple syrup muffins that weren’t very good, and all I could think was “well that was one expensive batch of crappy muffins”. It still hurts to think of the waste of that amber gold – lesson well and truly learned.
Underneath all that syrupy banana goodness was a moist cake flecked with milk and dark chocolate chips and bursting with banana flavour. I served it warm with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream (Haagen Dazs – I really try not to be too big of a food snob but when it comes to vanilla ice cream I just can’t go cheap. The good stuff is just the best thing ever, once you’ve had it the soft scoop ice cream of your childhood is completely ruined. I’m an ice cream snob, and I am absolutely OK with that) which is the perfect pairing for this cake. Although a really thick Jersey cream would be ace too. The Boyfriend isn’t normally much of a cake fan, but throw a banana into the mix and that changes everything. It might not have erased the memory of the game but it certainly eased the pain.
I’m pleased to report also that this cake is still very good for the next couple of days after being baked. It retains its moistness whilst the syrup at the edge of the cake gets a little bit chewy, and goes pretty darn well with a cup of coffee after you’ve finally got your baby down for a nap and you’ve got a good book to hand.
If you’d like to give this cake a go and know someone who needs cheering up, then here’s the recipe, although be warned, once you see some of Delicious’ other cake recipes you might have a hard time choosing what you’ll make: http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/chocolate-banana-upside-down-cake/ . Happy Baking!