Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Banana Cake with Passionfruit and Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana and Passionfruit Cake

This cake is the brainchild of my dad, who, tired and dazed from a 3am wake-up call as we plodded down the M6 to collect mum from Heathrow, strung a few words together to formulate an answer to my question of what birthday cake he wanted. He's a man of... sincere tastes, much preferring to focus his brainpower on things like VBA subroutine creation in Microsoft Excel, or deciphering the secrets behind the number 1369 - why every time he passes that number on a lamp post in the local village, it seems to stand there and mock his intellectuality. Being the type who eats a bowl of cornflakes with as much fervour as he would a seared Carpaccio of beef, I was pleasantly surprised when he proposed a cake a little more interesting than your average Victoria sponge. Admittedly, it was more of a case of just picking two food related words in succession - ‘banana’ and ‘passion-fruit’; no genuine intellectual investment, but it sufficed. At least his intellectual musings paid off elsewhere on that journey – on the same eight hour long journey his eureka moment finally occurred re the number 1369 – turns out it equals 37 squared. Sneaky little 1369.

Banana and Passionfruit Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Although the first record of baking with bananas is rather recent, in Pilsbury’s Balanced Recipes in 1933, banana cake/bread has since made its way into the ‘firm favourites’ category for many households as far as Vietnam, with their ‘Bánh Chuối Nướng’ or the Brazilian ‘Cuca de Banana’. In the US, you can even celebrate the humble banana bread on the 23rd February, aka, National Banana Bread day.  

Banana and Passionfruit Cake

Banana cake/bread is a particularly useful way to use up old, blackening bananas. I, however, forget to think ahead and bought bananas that were just ripe; nowhere near the consistency or developed sugar levels of the kind you’d want to use in baking. If you’ve made the same slip-up, all is not lost. See my tips at the bottom of the recipe on how to speed up the ripening process in minutes.

Passion Fruit

I often find that using oil rather than butter in cake batter gives better moisture. There’s no need for creaming butter and sugar together either, which makes this cake a quicker and cheaper one than using butter. 

As for the frosting, this cake was inevitably taking a tropical turn, so I decided to take it a step further by adding some coconut cream and essence to the cream-cheese topping. Just make sure you find a firm coconut cream, or the frosting may turn out a runny mess.

Banana and Passionfruit Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana and Passionfruit Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 20-25 squares


2 cups self-raising flour*
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
4 very ripe bananas**
1 cup oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Grease a rectangular 9”x13” baking tin and line base with paper. Grease paper.

2. Sift flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add sugar, and stir.
3. Mash the bananas with a fork. Add the beaten egg and oil, stir.
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and add the banana concoction. Stir until mixture is smooth.
5. Pour cake into prepared tin and bake at 150°c for 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
6. Ice cake with frosting and drizzle with the sweetened passion fruit pulp. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


225g Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cream of coconut - see note below ***
1tsp coconut essence
3 large passion fruit + 2 tbsp icing sugar

1. With a spatula, cream together cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth.

2. Beat in coconut cream and essence.

3. This step is really important, or you’ll get a runny frosting. Stir in sifted powdered sugar until just mixed, no more.  Refrigerate until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, halve the passion fruit and scoop out all the pulp. Mix in the 2 tablespoons of icing sugar, and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Allow to cool.


* To make your own self-raising flour, add 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt to each cup of plain flour (150g).

** If you need to speed up the ripening process, pop the bananas in the microwave on a plate with the skins split lengthways, and heat on full power for 2 minutes. De-skinned them, brake them up slightly, then microwave for another minute. Cover with cling film and allow them to sit for an hour. When you return, you’ll notice they’re much softer and brown. 

*** It is crucial to buy the coconut cream with the least amount of water, lest you end up with a running frosting. A thick coconut cream has the consistency of a very thick greek yoghurt. Supermarket cartons of the stuff vary, so squeeze the cartons slightly to test the firmness. It should feel like squeezing a carton of clotted cream. If no carton fits the bill, leave the coconut cream out of the recipe.


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1 comment:

  1. OMG, looks A-MA-ZING. Wish I had the patience to bake something like this!


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