Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.
Photography by Michael Allen Photography (@michael_allen_rodriguez).
I developed a love for bananas at an early age. First, there were the trips back to the south east Asian motherland and the decadently sweet lady finger bananas, straight from the plantation, and the Indonesian fried banana treat, ‘goreng pisang’. Then, there was my mother’s famous banana cake – I still haven’t managed to wrangle the recipe from her. Finally, (and probably the most obvious contribution to my obsession, duh), the hours I spent playing Donkey Kong Country. Seeing all those bananas on screen drove me bananas – it was subliminal messaging at it’s very best. I’m pretty sure I was led to believe that I was also a Princess, a Toad, and a plumber. How sad I was when I learnt that you don’t earn money by headbutting a box in the sky and jumping on flagpoles.
This weekend, we managed to score a 3kg bag of bananas at the market for $2. Donkey and Diddy would’ve been proud.
Imagine the most buttery, flaky naan bread you’ve ever had. Now imagine it stuffed with banana.
I give you: BananaNaan.
Hot, fresh out of the tandoor, and probably drizzled in Nutella and crunchy peanut butter. BananaNaan. Or dipped into a spicy curry, complex enough in flavour to contrast the natural sweetness of the banana. BananaNaan. Savoury or sweet? Either way, it would be magic. BananaNaan. Admit it. You find the concept of BananaNaan aPEELing. Ha.
Now, if you grew up in Australia, imagine the tune for ‘Banana Boat’ sunscreen and replace “Banana Boat” with “BananaNaan”. Yeah, try get that one out of your head, suckers.
BananaNaan. A food that I would still like to make a reality at some point in my life. The thing is, I feel that if I were to master the art of the BananaNaan, I wouldn’t be able to turn back. Everything I eat would have to be accompanied by BananaNaan. Everything I have ever done in my life would have led to the development of that one recipe, and I could probably die happy, right then and there. But there are so many tasty treats in the world that I would like to consume before that point, so I guess you’ll just have to wait a while for that one.
In the meantime, I bring you this: Salted Caramel Banana Upside-Down Cake. Though this cake is hardly BananaNaan, it’s still pretty damn good. Making this cake for dinner tonight would be an excellent life decision. Trust.
Banana. Salted Caramel. Cake. Moist – it’s everything you could ever want in a cake/life, besides BananaNaan, of course. Add some fre$h mint on top, and you pretty much have all the food groups you need to constitute a healthy dinner. Right? Plus, bananas are high in potassium, so that can only mean good things for your body. Unless you already have a high potassium intake – then you probably shouldn’t eat so many bananas. Stop eating those bananas. Just stop, ok?
It’s perfectly dense and rich, and the addition of almond meal as well as normal flour, retains the moisture of the banana while soaking up all that syrupy-caramelly-goodness. Unlike some banana cakes i’ve had (and oh, I have had many), this version isn’t sickeningly sweet or doesn’t leave that odd dry feeling in your mouth, and it definitely doesn’t need some generic cream cheese icing on top to make it a winner.
Make it when nobody else is home, so you don’t have to share. There’s nothing that drives me more bananas than having to split my banana cake. Banana splits? A-ok. Splitting banana cake? Not ok.
Panela is unrefined cane sugar common to Central and Latin American cooking, with a high molasses content, making it high in moisture and less sweet than brown sugar. Because Panela has a high molasses and moisture content, it isn’t as sweet as brown sugar. You can substitute brown sugar if Panela is unavailable, but make sure you alter the quantity accordingly.
Salted Caramel Banana Upside-Down Cake
50g salted butter, plus 120g extra, melted
1/2 cup Panela sugar (substitute for 1/3 cup brown sugar if Panela is unavailable)
pinch of salt flakes
3 large bananas, peeled and sliced, plus 1 large banana, mashed
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup almond meal
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Mint leaves, to garnish
Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius.
Heat 50g butter with Panela and salt in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Bring the heat to high, and boil for a further minute. Pour caramel into a pre-greased 25cm round springform cake tin, and arrange the banana slices, slightly overlapping, on top of the caramel. Set aside.
Beat the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla until combined and the mixture is at least three times the original volume. Sift in the almond meal, baking powder, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon, and fold to combine. Fold through mashed banana and 120g of melted butter until mixture no longer separates. Pour mixture into the tin over the bananas and caramel, and bake for 55 minutes to an hour, or until cooked through when tested with a skewer.
Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a platter. The caramel should still be runny and ooze out over the cake. Garnish with mint leaves and serve immediately with extra Panela caramel or ice cream.