Usually I try to give things interesting titles, but this Double Chocolate/Cinnamon Spice Ice-Cream Salted Caramel Walnut Marbled Banana Bread was too long already.
It’s a marbled banana bread, which is pretty much a Smitten Kitchen recipe. I’ve almost finished the edits for my cookbook (I know! An Eating With My Fingers cookbook! Bloomsbury, September 2018!) and I can’t invent anything else, I am done with inventing things to cook.
No, I’m lying, obviously, I will never be done; but sometimes it’s nice to cook something someone else invented. And Deb Perelman is very, very good at inventing things.
I did, however, put walnuts and a salted caramel in it, because I like those things, and also my sister had had a really hard week and I felt like she needed it? The salted caramel is made from vanilla ice-cream because we didn’t have any cream, but please do what you want.
And also I whisked it sort of differently to the S.K. original, and also packed it more densely into the loaf tin so you get a kind of denser, fudgier brownie-type texture? I think I might have fudged the quantities a bit too, because I can’t measure things in cups and also I got butter in my phone buttons and couldn’t look to check what Smitten Kitchen suggested. So this is, like, 90% Smitten Kitchen, and 10% improv.
I am going to tell you the places where you can improvise here because I am absolutely sick of measuring things; I trust you to make a good cake; you will make a good cake. Improvise away. I hate baking so much but this was fine, truly; I only write up baking that is so easy a child could do it (with adult supervision, let’s be real).
It’s been so long since I blogged anything that I have absolutely no recollection of how I usually format things on here. Do we do…italics? Let’s do some italics.
Makes one loaf tin; regular loaf-tin sized, like a 1 lb loaf tin. Why are cakes in loaf tins so much better than cakes in round tins? I don’t know but it’s a fact of nature. Do not @ me.
(You can @ me, we can fight about loaf tins vs round tins, it will be the most gentle thing on Twitter in ages, it’ll be great.)
4 brown bananas that are too gross to eat. If you would eat them they aren’t ready for this.
100g unsalted butter
150g dark brown sugar (basically any brown sugar I think is ok, go wild)
Pinch of salt
150g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
Two bags of chocolate chunks (whatever, I used milk)
Some walnuts! Like, maybe a handful?
2 tsp cinnamon
A few cloves
2 tsp, ish, of vanilla extract
50g brown sugar
2 big spoons of vanilla ice cream, preferably the kind made with actual cream, but maybe it would work with ordinary ice cream, I don’t know! Try it! What’s the worst that can happen?
Also: don’t freak out about the word “caramel”, it’s fine? It’s totally fine and it will definitely work, so don’t worry.
Tbsp flaky sea salt, like Maldon
Loaf tin, potato masher if you have it, electric beater, two bowls, something to melt stuff with/in, plate, tin foil, two bowls, two spoons
OK. We are starting with the caramel. Try not to freak out about this? Not that you would, only people do sometimes and that kind of thing is catching. You’re literally just melting the butter, then the sugar, then the ice cream, and stirring it together until it isn’t lumpy.
Get a saucepan (this is where my editor would say “Query: heavy bottomed pan??” and I have to reply and say “I have only one saucepan”). Heavy bottomed saucepan makes this easier. I have only one saucepan. It’s fine.
So, saucepan, low heat. Melt the butter; let it foam a bit; smell great; go slightly brownish; smell even better.
You need a regular-sized dinner plate and some tin foil. Can the plate fit in your freezer? Make space so that the plate can fit in your freezer.
Wrap the plate in the tin-foil. Put the tin-foil plate by the hob. There is method in my madness.
Tip in the sugar, stir it a bit. Is it melting into the butter? Great. Stir it some more. Add the ice cream. Stir it, let it melt, let it all come together smooth and melted and glossy. (That’s like a prayer for caramel.) Pour the caramel onto the tin-foiled plate, scatter over the flaky sea salt.
Put the plate into the freezer, which you have cleared to make space for the plate. There is definitely room in your freezer for the plate.
OK. So. Switch the oven to 180. This is fan oven; I say that knowing that the oven I have baked this in is a deeply unreliable gas oven which only gets hot in places. 180 centigrade is fine.
Big bowl. Butter. Melt the butter. (This is your butter for your batter, not the butter for the caramel, obviously.)
I do this in the microwave because I am at my parents’ house (because my life went kind of AWOL lately, maybe you noticed?) and they have a microwave. Melt the butter. If you can’t melt butter I will talk to you after class.
Peel the bananas, mash them into the butter. (If your bananas were not old enough, this is when you find out, because they won’t mash. This is not a disaster. Stab them all over with a fork, like really all over, and then mash them. Way easier.)
Get the electric beaters. Tip in the bicarb and the sugar. Crack in the egg. Pinch of salt. Whizz it up with the beaters, for maybe a minute? It starts to look like batter, basically.
Add 125g of the flour, and beat it for ten seconds or something- just so you can’t see any white any more.
Divide the mixture between two bowls, about evenly. IT’S FINE, HOWEVER YOU DID IT IS FINE, IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THEY AREN’T EXACTLY EVEN.
Into one bowl put: the rest of the flour, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, and the bits of the cloves that you can crush between your fingers. Vanilla extract (I just do a generous glug.) Beat it.
Into the other bowl put the cocoa powder, and the chocolate chips. Beat it.
Grease the loaf tin with as much butter as you can spare.
Fetch the caramel out of the freezer, and cut it with scissors into long ribbons. Or shards! Shards work too! Or just, like, wodges of it. It’s all fine.
You will have too much caramel for this one loaf cake! The rest you can keep in your freezer, or in a jar as a sauce! Don’t worry!
Crunch up the walnuts in your own two little fists. Save four walnut halves for the top.
Dollop the batters into the loaf tin, like this: one dollop of chocolate, one of spice, one of chocolate. Then you stud it with salted caramel, then half of the walnuts.
Then you repeat, but opposite: one dollop of spice (on top of the chocolate), one dollop of chocolate (on top of the spice), one dollop of spice (on top of the chocolate). More caramel, more walnuts. Third and last layer of batter. Spice, chocolate, spice.
With a butter knife, swirl it very lightly. I think Smitten Kitchen says no more than two figures of eight? Mine did not swirl easily so I didn’t push it.
Stud top with caramel. Four walnut halves on top.
PUT IT ON A BAKING SHEET; this RISES and MAYBE SPILLS.
Bake for at least an hour, possibly longer: mine was eighty minutes.
Your oven may vary, BUT here is how you know: if you stick a skewer in and it comes out clean (of batter, there may be choc chunks or caramel attached), you’re good to go. If raw batter clings to your skewer, stick it back in for another ten minutes. Repeat until skewer is clean.
The top will be all crusty and gorgeous; the inside will be dense and fudgy, like a brownie-type consistency.
Let it cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack. I did this by putting a plate over the top of the tin and turning it upside down so the cake “fell” out of the tin and onto the plate.
Then I took the tin away with one hand, put the cooling rack against the bottom of the cake, and turned it right way up again.
I let it cool on the rack for a bit because I was afraid it was going to collapse. It kind of did, when we cut it? It was delicious anyway.
This is a truly very wonderful cake; I hope you make it. I hope you love it.