Everyone pretty much has a go-to banana bread recipe, but this one is unusual. It has an addition of ripe mashed papaya and desiccated coconut, the coconut giving a pleasing crunch to the moist cake. I also love the topping of a generous handful of toasted coconut, and adding fragrant spices to the batter – but the cake is just as good without these. You could forgo the spices altogether and add the grated zest of one lime, too.
I found the original version in Fields of Flavour cookbook, published in 2002 by then Struik Publishers. The author, Serena Jacobson, was also the owner of Fields health shop in Cape Town’s Kloof Street – a magical place with strange and mysterious ingredients on the shelves, and delicious if quirky food.
Serena’s recipe uses soy milk and her recipe advises to whisk the sugar with 180 ml oil. Since I have no problem with butter, I find that creaming the sugar and butter together gives a far more satisfying, lighter result. However, if you prefer to use oil, use that instead – a light oil like sunflower, canola or even peanut oil will do.
The cake can be dusted with icing sugar once cooled, or scatter a handful of nutty toasted coconut curls over for a wonderfully crunchy topping. Serve in squares with morning coffee or as dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Keeps for 4 days in an airtight container.
BANANA CAKE WITH COCONUT AND PAPAYA
3/4 cup (180 ml) softened butter or margarine (you can also use oil, but it won’t whip up as well)
3/4 cup (180 ml) castor sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (125 ml) mashed overripe banana
1/2 cup (125 ml) mashed overripe papaya
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) self-raising flour
1/2 cup (125 ml) desiccated coconut
1/2 t (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/2 t each (2.5 ml) ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg (optional) OR grated zest of 1 lime
4 T (60 ml) soy, almond or cow’s milk
icing sugar for decoration, or 1 large handful of lightly toasted coconut curls
- Preheat oven to 180 C. Spray a square or rectangular cake tin with Cook & Spray, then line with baking paper. Lightly spray the paper too – leaving edges of about 3 cm sticking out above the edges of the cake tin makes it easier to lift the finished cake out of the tin to cool on a wire rack.
- Beat butter/margarine/oil and sugar together with electric beater until fluffy and pale. (This won’t happen quite as well if you use oil.)
- Add the eggs one by one with the motor running, making sure each egg is completely amalgamated before adding the next ingredients.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and spices together in a bowl and stir in the coconut. Add to the mixing bowl in half cup measures while the motor is still running. Then add the milk and continue to beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour. Test for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the middle of the cake – if it comes out clean, the cake is done. If some batter sticks to the toothpick, continue baking in 10 minute increments until completely done.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the tin before removing and cooling on a wire rack. Decorate by lightly sifting icing sugar over, or scatter over a handful of toasted coconut curls.