Life

James St Cookery School: Banana loaf and polenta and yoghurt cake

Banana loaf from James St Cookery School
Niall McKenna

THERE’S no better smell than that of a cake baking in the oven. So, baking tins at the ready and prepare to cook up a treat for yourself – we surely all deserve one.

This banana loaf is great for using spare ingredients. It’s also delicious and easy to make, and therefore ideal for getting kids involved – my young daughter Charlotte is a dab hand at this one.

The polenta and yoghurt cake always reminds me of the River Café in London, an iconic restaurant that sits along the Thames and is known for having the finest ingredients in the city.

This cake brings back floods of memories of great food and merriment with close friends who love cooking and always welcome me into their home. These are happy memories that help me look forward to times when we can get together soon.

BANANA LOAF

(This recipe is perfect for a 20cm x 12cm cake tin)

300g plain flour

1 tsp bicarb of soda

Pinch of salt

110g butter

225g caster sugar

2 eggs

3 ripe bananas, mashed in bowl

85ml buttermilk

2 tbsp honey

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease your loaf tin with butter. Sieve the flour, bicarb of soda and salt into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, soften the butter using a wooden spoon and add in the caster sugar, mixing until you have a light fluffy mixture.

Crack your eggs and add to the butter-and-sugar mix; add the mashed bananas, buttermilk and honey, mixing well. Slowly fold in the sieved flour, bicarb of soda and salt, mixing continuously until any lumps are worked out.

Pour the mix into your loaf tin; place in the oven and bake for up to 60 minutes. The loaf will rise and should be browned on top. To check if cooked, insert a metal skewer or a good old knitting needle into the centre – it should come out clear.

Once cooked, cool in tin and then remove to wire rack. Serve with butter. This loaf will keep in an airtight container for a few days.

POLENTA AND YOGHURT CAKE

(This mix is perfect for a 1 x 19-inch tin)

3 eggs plus 3 egg whites

200g sugar

100g olive oil

70g groundnut oil

340g natural yoghurt

1 orange, zest and juice

200g instant polenta

100g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

Method:

Preheat your oven to 160C. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy and light. Add the olive oil, groundnut oil, yoghurt, orange juice and zest and continually beat slowly until thoroughly mixed.

Next, add in the polenta, flour and baking powder, mixing thoroughly and slowly. Pour all into a baking tin, preferably non-stick, and place in oven for 35 minutes until golden.

Remove when cooked (check that it's cooked through as above), leave to cool and then remove from the tin. Serve at room temperature with yoghurt or ice cream.

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