Ba­nanas for cake: a slice of sweet nos­tal­gia

There’s no doubt­ing New Zealand’s love af­fair with ba­nana cake. But who’s is the best?

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - SPONSORED CONTENT - Visit www.dolenz.co.nz for more in­for­ma­tion.

Men­tion ba­nana cake to many Ki­wis and they’ll usu­ally get a lit­tle twin­kle in their eye be­fore re­count­ing their favourite ver­sion from child­hood: com­ing home from school to a piece of Nana’s but­tered ba­nana bread with its crunchy bits of wal­nut; a spe­cial birth­day cake, stud­ded with choc chips, its two lay­ers sand­wiched to­gether with cream and ex­tra slices of ba­nana and topped with cho­co­late ic­ing...

You’ll find plenty of folk wed­ded to a beloved ba­nana cake mem­ory. So it’s hardly sur­pris­ing it con­sis­tently comes out top of the polls as the most pop­u­lar recipe in that bas­tion of clas­sic Kiwi bak­ing, the Ed­monds Cook­ery Book.

Th­ese days, though, you’re just as likely to stum­ble across a gluten-free ver­sion, made with in­gre­di­ents such as co­conut oil, honey and ground al­monds. Or maybe a fancy mini loaf with a cream cheese frost­ing and a caramel driz­zle. The vari­a­tions are end­less.

Its ori­gin, though, is thought to have come from Amer­ica, when two key events con­verged – the Great De­pres­sion of the 1930s (when “food waste” was a dirty phrase) and the mass pro­duc­tion of bak­ing pow­der and bak­ing soda for home use. That over­ripe ba­nana sud­denly be­came a hero in­gre­di­ent, soft and sweet and perfect for bak­ing with th­ese now widely avail­able leav­en­ing agents. By the early 1930s, ba­nana bread recipes were ubiq­ui­tous. Its evolution is leg­endary.

What­ever ver­sion gets you sali­vat­ing, this sim­ple yet de­li­cious sweet treat has one thing in com­mon of course – ba­nanas, the world’s most pop­u­lar fruit, which gets its very own day of cel­e­bra­tion on April 18 this year. And nowhere are they more pop­u­lar than New Zealand – Ki­wis eat more ba­nanas per capita than any­where else, get­ting through 18 kilo­grams per per­son, per year, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics NZ. They’re our most com­mon su­per­mar­ket prod­uct.

What’s ex­tra nice about th­ese highly nu­tri­tious nat­u­ral gems is that Dole ba­nanas, sourced from Ecuador and the Philip­pines, are given all the right care be­fore they end up in your home, through a part­ner­ship with Mar­ket Gar­den­ers. The joint ven­ture ripen­ing part­ner­ship has three state of art fa­cil­i­ties across the coun­try. Dole ba­nanas are har­vested green, trans­ported at cool tem­per­a­tures and al­lowed to ripen at their des­ti­na­tion, mean­ing they’ll al­ways ar­rive at your store fresh, firm and de­li­cious.

If you buy them green, they’ll ripen in your home at room tem­per­a­ture. When they’re the perfect shade of yel­low, they’re ready to be zipped open and de­voured as a snack (a perfect fuel for exercise and a lunch­box sta­ple), or chopped up to top your ce­real or por­ridge, maybe added to a smoothie or sliced into a pikelet mix – so many scrump­tious ways to get a nat­u­rally sweet fix. If they’ve turned a shade too brown, just whip the skins off and freeze them for when you’re ready.

But as the say­ing goes, when life gives you ripe ba­nanas, make ba­nana cake. The ques­tion re­mains… which one is the best?

“Ki­wis eat more ba­nans per capita than any­where else”

PHO­TOS: UNSPLASH

Ba­nana cake is the most pop­u­lar recipe in the Ed­monds Cook­ery book.

Cel­e­brate World Ba­nana Day on April 18

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