Claire Ptak bakes with the yellow fruit
We can depend on bananas to brighten up our bakes whatever the time of year. Here they lend their sweetness to an indulgent American-style bourbon, chocolate and cream tartlet and an exceptionally easy ice-cream
Isaw on Instagram the other day that some people have started growing bananas in California — another reason to be homesick in London in February. While we can’t boast a local banana crop here in the UK, we do have access to good bananas all year-round, since they do not have a specific growing season. At Violet, we are known for our banana bread, but more can be done with the fruit of this giant herb which, I was surprised to learn, is not a tree.
There is a fleeting sweet spot with banana ripeness, so you have to be vigilant with your fruit bowl. At that moment, the green fades to yellow. No longer astringent with starchiness, the sugars develop and the fruit softens. The perfume is perfect and no brown spots have formed yet. This is the moment to use your bananas in this week’s recipes.
Bourbon banana cream tartlets Banana cream pie, or this tartlet version, is the American dream dessert. The forgotten banana that is so readily mashed into our favourite cakey bread is elevated here to dizzying new heights, suspended in clouds of boozy cream and custard, becoming rich and luxurious.
Makes 6 180g plain flour 2 tbsp caster sugar ¼ tsp salt 125g unsalted butter, cold and cubed 2 egg yolks 1 tbsp ice water 100g dark chocolate 3 medium bananas (ripe, but not covered in brown spots)
For the custard 2 egg yolks 340ml whole milk 50g golden caster sugar 25g cornflour ¼ tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the cream 300ml double cream 2 tsp bourbon ½ tsp vanilla extract 1 tbsp golden caster sugar Cocoa powder, to serve
1 For the pastry, add the flour, sugar and salt to a blender and blitz briefly to combine. Add the cold butter and blitz until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Combine the yolks and water, then add all at once. Mix until it just comes together (about 30 seconds or less). Wrap well in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes, but soften slightly before rolling.
2 Butter the insides of 6 individual pastry rings or individual tart shells. On a surface lightly dusted with flour, roll out the pastry until about 3mm
thick. Cut circles about 6cm larger in diameter than your tart shells or rings. Press the pastry circles down into the rings and trim off any excess. Freeze or chill them for 15 minutes.
3 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6. Line the chilled pastries with pieces of baking paper. Fill with baking beans and “blind bake” them for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and baking beans, then return to the oven to bake a further 5-10 minutes, or until golden. Set aside to cool.
4 On a very low heat, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over
simmering water. Do not let the water boil rapidly, as this can cause it to burn. Stir the chocolate and pour it into the bottom of the baked pastries. Rotate the shells as you go, so that the chocolate coats the inside in a nice, thin even layer. Put in the fridge to chill. This can be done the day before.
Arrange a fine sieve over a mediumsize bowl. Whisk together all of the custard ingredients thoroughly in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put over a very low heat and whisk constantly for about 10-15 minutes, or until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. When the custard is ready, pour through the sieve and into the bowl. Give the custard a stir to release some steam, then press a piece of clingfilm on to the top of the custard so it does not form a skin. Chill for at least an hour. This can also be done the day before.
To make the cream, put all the ingredients together in a bowl and whisk to soft, voluminous peaks. Chill if you are not assembling right away. Just before using, stir the cream once or twice to check it has not separated.
To assemble, remove your chocolate- lined pastry shells from the fridge. Slice the bananas thinly on an angle. Line the bottom of the pastries with half the banana slices and then pour the chilled custard on top. Add the remaining banana slices.
Use a large metal spoon and take scoops of the whipped cream and blob them across the top of the tarts. Chill until ready to serve – or for at least 1 hour. Dust the tops with cocoa powder before serving.
Banana ice-cream The foil to these tartlets is banana “icecream” made only with frozen blitzed bananas and a little honey and salt. Finished with the best olive oil you can afford, the simple banana becomes something else entirely. Hallelujah.
Serves 2-4 3 medium bananas A pinch of fine sea salt 2 tbsp honey Extra virgin olive oil, to finish Flaky sea salt, to finish
Slice the bananas and freeze for at least 1 hour. Remove and immediately blitz in a processor until smooth. Add the salt and honey, and blitz to mix. Decant the mixture into an airtight container and freeze again for at least two hours.
Serve with a drizzle of your best olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
he sweet spot with bananas is fleeting, when the perfume is perfect and no brown spots have formed. This is the moment for these recipes