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Happy 26th Birthday to me. YIKES.

I’m constantly saying birthdays are the most important time of the year; it’s a time that reminds us of the importance for being grateful for the wonderful friends we keep, it brings everybody together. This year I’ve felt too unemployed, too useless and therefore too undeserving to even begin contemplating the fine art of celebration for myself (the only happiness I see is the bottom of ice cream tubs) and it’s unfortunate that such a happy occasion should fall on such an awkward time in my life. But, thanks to some encouraging family and friends we partied nice this weekend and it was good.

Such a terrifying number (twenty six, say it with me now) amplified by my post graduate and job seeking status warranted the creation of a delightful cake screaming of age denial. Welcome to my life, banana split cake; banana cake with a dulce de leche filling covered in yellow buttercream, chocolate glaze, honeyed cashews, 100s and 1000s, faux ice cream buttercream scoops in neapolitan colours and even more nuts, sprinkles, cherries and wafers. If your cake doesn’t scream “DIABETES” then you’re doing something wrong. This is an ode, no, a blaring symphony to my cake philosophy; FONDANT NEVER, BUTTERCREAM FOREVER. It’s my legacy instilled in sugar.

For a cake that began as a humble sketch pictured above it seemed apt to illustrate the procedure for creating this buttery wonder instead of documenting via photos and I assure you the lack of fancy cross-section photos has nothing to do with the eternal struggle between gin brain and camera/knife wielding after blowing out the candles. Guys, did I make an idiot out of myself when I made that speech… ? RIP me. Death by embarrassment.

The banana cake recipe was taken from a classic Women’s Weekly book (my mum used to make it all the time (~FAMILY HISTORY~)) and the dulce de leche filling was made by slow-cooking condensed milk in a bain-marie with a pinch of salt (too scared to boil dat can).

Beautiful, flourishing emotions aside, here’s how to decorate it; you’ll need two 9 inch rounds of cake, a filling of your choice (optional), lots of buttercream, food colouring (I find gel is best), crushed nuts, sprinkles / 100s and 1000s, chocolate, cream and glucose / corn syrup. It will make any 26 year old cry with happy tears or at the very least gently ease them into the final year of their “mid 20s”. There is no such thing as age appropriate when it comes to cake.

… twenty… six.


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Spiced Banana Bread Stack with Pecan Brittle

You’ll have to forgive me, I’m not entirely sure what I’m blogging about.

Is it a loaf? Faux-pancakes? A funky little dessert plate fit for a café’s afternoon tea menu?

I really don’t know. But what I do know is that I can’t wait to sure my super moist spiced banana bread recipe with you! Although I give most store-bought banana breads the benefit of the doubt as to whether they use real bananas as opposed to artificial banana flavouring, too often I come across a slice that’s crazy doused in sugar. Now don’t get me wrong, sugar is my everything, however being a good (half) Cypriot girl I eat my bread and toast with honey and lots of it. So, in this recipe, I’ve substituted lashings of sugar for pinches of subtle spices. It’s not your average banana bread but who wants to eat average anyway? It’s a one-bowl recipe and dairy free too, so, shout outs to my pressed-for-time and lactose-intolerant bros.

Pecan Brittle

Oh yeah, then I made some pecan brittle and served it with a little marscarpone cream on my bread. I was styling this straight after eating lunch so I doubt I was in the correct mindframe to be dealing with this banana wonder. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my camera lately so I was probably desperate for a plate of tower-esque food to play with in Lightroom. Since I’m a little undecided on this you must, must let me know; does this stack look even remotely appetising? If not, it’s cool, ignore it and focus your attention on this nice loaf photo below. Okay? Okay. But do let me know please. Ahhhhhh.

Alana's One-Bowl Spiced Banana Bread

Alana’s One-Bowl Spiced Banana Bread
4 overripe bananas
2 cups flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carb / baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Pecan Brittle
1/2 sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup roughly chopped pecans

For the Banana Bread
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Unravel overripe bananas and mash in a bowl.
3. Combine all remaining ingredients and beat until just combined.
4. Grease a loaf tin and fold a piece of baking paper over the edges (this makes it much easier to remove later). Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
5. Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes then remove and place on wire rack. Serve with honey, pecans and a cup of tea, OR…

For the Pecan Brittle
1. Prepare baking paper on an oven tray.
2. Place sugar and water in a small pan over medium heat and allow to boil until it begins to turn a slight amber colour. Give it a quick swirl, remove from heat and stir through chopped pecans.
3. Working quickly, pour mixture over baking paper and allow to cool. Once hardened, smash into shards.

To serve
1. Slice banana bread and, if you like, lightly toast. Stack and serve with a spoonful of lightly whipped cream or marscarpone and a sprinkling of pecan brittle.

Alana's One-Bowl Spiced Banana Bread

And there you have it, my spiced banana bread served two ways! How fancy.

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