Our venue was the beautiful Hammet House Hotel set on the banks of the River Teifi just outside the village of Llechryd - modern luxury in Grade II listed Georgian splendour - how lucky were we?
The theme for the evening was 'Brilliant Banana Bake Off'. I've never cooked a banana cake that wasn't in loaf form, and so determined to produce something more cake-like, I sourced a round version - but couldn't give up the addition of tinned caramel...
The first time I ever had banoffee pie, that glorious combination of broken biscuit base, bananas, caramel, I was about 13. We were at a big family party 'down south' - lots of older second cousins around, and the glamour of it all was almost too much to bear - as was my encounter with the banoffee pie. There was no sorry end, no gorging resulting in horrible after effects, but for someone who had only ever experienced banana tarted up with (a) milk and brown sugar (b) yoghurt and hot chocolate powder or (c) custard, you'll appreciate that the presentation of it in a pie, with the glory of caramel, and in this initial encounter, (as I recall) a liberal amount of cream, it was sophistication that I hadn't even dreamt of - and given that boys didn't feature much in my life at that stage, it was about the most exciting thing I had come across. Ever.
The thing about banoffee though, is that it is very rich. Sickly, even. And while I may often scoff at people who suggest only a small piece of a particular cake, this is just that. Really. On the plus side it is incredibly easy to make. And given that I had to knock it up after an awesome but exhausting weekend camping on the Gower peninsular in a gale, that was definitely a good thing.
200g soft unsalted butter
100g light muscovado sugar
100g soft brown sugar (or 200g of either one)
4 large eggs
2 ripe bananas, broken into chunks & mashed up
75g walnut pieces, chopped
200g self raising flour
for the icing
150g soft unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
2 tbsp tinned caramel or dulce de leche
8 walnut halves
Grease & line a 20cm cake tin and pre-heat the oven to 180C
Cream together the butter and butter for about 5 minutes till light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition, then beat in the mashed banana. It may look quite curdled but don't worry.
Fold in the flour and chopped walnuts, then scrape into the prepared tin and pop in the oven.
Bake for 40-45 minutes till golden on top and a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool.
To ice, add the butter to a bowl, sift in the icing sugar, add the caramel and beat together to make a smooth creamy icing. Spread this over the cold cake, decorate with walnut halves and fudge pieces.
Have a small slice. Especially if eating as one of a selection of banana cakes - who'd have thought they came in so many different guises?
A full write up of the evening will appear on the Clandestine Cake Club's site soon!