Someone needs to find a way for a bunch of bananas to ripen one by one, instead of the whole damn lot ripening at the same time and causing me to panic-eat bananas. I know you can freeze them and make instant 1-ingredient-banana-ice-cream*, but let’s be honest here. No one ever remembers that they have frozen bananas in their freezer. I found some in the bottom of my freezer dating back to when Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were together.
*That is not real ice cream.
As you may or may not be aware, traditional Asian desserts are not that great because they are usually a sad soupy mix of beans and sugar. However, this banana cake is amazing. It isn’t really a cake in the sense that it doesn’t have the expected spongy texture of cake. It’s almost more of a baked custard, dense and smooth. Delicious. Why it is specifically Vietnamese, I do not know. However I do know that Vietnamese people love condensed milk, so I feel that is confirmation enough.
It’s full of eggs, butter, condensed milk, coconut milk, vanilla and bananas. Doesn’t that sound good? It could be a cocktail if there was some rum thrown in it. I also made a dark caramel to drizzle over the top as the cake itself isn’t overly sweet on its own, and bananas and caramel are a winning combination in any country, am I right? Also – I like to add this because everyone always wants to know the level of difficulty and whether they need to spend a fortune on KitchenAid appliances – this cake only requires a bowl, a whisk, and the ability to make stirring motions. The caramel part can be a little trickier as it doesn’t take much for the caramel to turn into a crystallised lump of sugar if you’re not careful. The caramel is not totally necessary, but it does add a little something. The choice is yours.
You can eat this cake cold or serve big chunks of it warmed in the microwave which is my favourite thing to do and it’s the perfect winter pudding for this freezing Sydney weather. So next time you find yourself with 5 ripe bananas in the fruit bowl, you know what to do. And if you’re considering putting them in the freezer, just stop. You know as well as I do that those bananas will never see the light of day again.
VIETNAMESE BANANA CAKE WITH CARAMEL SAUCE
7 large eggs, at room temperature
1 can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
200g unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups plain flour
5 medium bananas, fairly ripe and sliced into bite-sizes
150g caster sugar
100ml thickened cream
20g unsalted butter
1 tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease and line an 8-inch round or square tin with baking paper.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and butter. Whisk in flour until smooth. Carefully fold in bananas. Pour mixture into tin.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes but keep checking as it may take longer depending on your oven. If your cake starts to look too brown on top, cover with a piece of foil and continue baking. Cake is ready when until top feels firm and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Allow to cool before removing from tin. Serve warm or cold.
Heat the caster sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. As it starts to melt after a few minutes, swirl the sugar around in the pan, don’t stir it as it may crystallize.
Once the liquid is a deep honey colour, take off the heat and whisk in the 1/3 of the cream before adding the rest of the cream,
Add the butter in chunks and stir until smooth. Stir in the salt. Leave to cool.