Last banana standing

(Flourless banana cake : banana custard, coconut ice-cream, white chocolate snow)

The singular ripe banana (Bananais Deliciousness) is a welcomed species in this household. I peek at it through a crack in the cupboard door; David Attenborough in an apron, minus his good intentions. Rather than observe undisturbed, this soft, spotty and fragrant beast, I want to eat it. It’s intense ripeness conveys a sense of urgency. Quick, how shall we use it, before the flies muzzle down on it. Before the singular hungry male of this household descends on it like the mid-morning snack that it appears to be.

I had what was possibly my last shift at my current place of work, last night. Thinking back now, about the crazy people I will miss working with, I also realise that it’s my time to go. This banana has to go. She is feeling happy, but frayed. She gave it her all, and she still remembers the times she cried on her way home because of how unfamiliar and impossible everything seemed. How the weariness set like eggwhites into grey under her eyes. But those were only tiny moments. A mere iritation in the oyster that grew into a pearl of an experience.

What will I miss? The head chef saying, “I’ve got a f*n sick idea” which can mean anything from garlic flavoured paper and the most beautiful ode to tomatoes on a plate, to “blue swimmer crab consomme” fashioned from Gatorade and a single raw scallop (to keep the waiters on their toes). I will miss the French manager with his impenetrable accent. The Italian waiter who tells us to “Chill-ax, man, just chillax!”

I could go on about what I will miss about everyone inbetween, but they probably won’t mean anything to most people reading this. Instead, I dedicate this joyfully messy impromptu piece of sunshine on a plate to all the good times I’ve had at my old job. Looking at it makes me smile, with arms wide open.

Oh, and the pastry chef. God yes, I will miss the pastry chef. Thank you, Katrina.

Flourless Banana Cake :
(serves 6; from Wild Weed Pie by Janni Kyritsis)

250g whole almonds, blanched and skinned
2 eggs
125g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons bitter almonds (optional)
250g bananas, peeled
2 teaspoons strained lemon juice
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1 tablespoon icing sugar, to serve
1 cup 45%-fat cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 150’C. Toast skinned almonds on a baking tray in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden and leave aside to cool. Leave the oven on at 150’C.

Butter a 22cm fluted flan tin (with removable base) and line with baking paper; wetting the baking paper and squeezing it well to remove the moisture will make it more pliable, so that it fits the fluted tin better. Grease the paper with more butter.

Beat the eggs with the sugar for about 10 minutes, or until mixture falling from the beaters forms a ribbon-like pattern on top of the mixture for a few seconds. Meanwhile, grind the almonds, baking powder and bitter almonds (if using) to a fine meal in a food processor (do not over-grind or they will become moist and sticky). Dust the tin with about 2 tablespoons of the almond meal then fold the remaining almond meal into the egg mixture. Puree the bananas with the lemon juice and fold immediately into the cake mixture – bananas must be pureed at the last minute to prevent them going black. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and scatter the surface with flaked almonds. Bake for about 40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven and leave to cool in tin.

When cool, sift over icing sugar, cut into slices and serve immediately with a dollop of thick cream on the side.

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  1. shez said,

    March 23, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

    Y, your writing is so beautifully nostalgic – and your pictures are so beautifully lickable!

    (are they little yellow flowers that you’ve topped the mound of icecream with? if so, edible? and what kind? they’re so cute!)

  2. the caked crusader said,

    March 23, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

    Oh wow – this one ticks all the boxes for me. I am getting particularly excited by the banana custard! Yum

  3. Arwen from Hoglet K said,

    March 23, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

    That banana certainly met a more magnificent fate in your hands than it would have as a mid-morning snack for a hungry male. It sounds like you have a lot of people to miss and I hope your new job brings plenty of new friends and interesting characters.

  4. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said,

    March 23, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

    Nice commemoration of your work there! Can’t wait to see what your new place will bring you 🙂

  5. Zita said,

    March 23, 2009 @ 11:04 pm

    I hope the new place will bring you more things to miss, when you leap again to the higher place in your passion…
    I love how you “bold” singular… bcs if you got 6kgs…like me… well, anyway alway love your plating:)

  6. anna said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 1:42 am

    That cake is ridiculously gorgeous. Mmm, banana. I might have to try this one next time I have sad looking bananas.

  7. Thip said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 4:39 am

    Nice presentation, Y.
    Congrats for the new move!!

  8. Caitlin said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 5:26 am

    Beautiful, just beautiful. I must admit, once bananas get to the baking stage, they’re well past prime eating time. And your memories of your work are exactly how I feel about the place I work now – stressful, yes, but so much is learned and so many wonderful people are there. It’s hard, staying or going.

  9. Irene said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 6:54 am

    “David Attenborough in an apron, minus his good intentions” – total awesomeness. 🙂

  10. Sophie said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 10:07 am

    Awww… gosh, with that post, I’ll miss it too ;). You are quite the writer and fantastic saver of brown bananas. Prettiest banana dessert right here, hands down :).

  11. Kitty said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 11:40 am

    Ah, to reminisce about fond memories! This looks divine!

  12. Y said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

    Thank you for the comments!

    Shez, those are marigolds (edible) from my balcony. I planted some seeds awhile ago, and am thrilled to see them finally flowering, because flowers must surely mean that they are thriving despite my best intentions at plant-care.

    Zita : You’ve got six kilos of bananas? That’s going to be one heck of a banana cake! 😉

    Caitlin : Exactly my sentiments. I didn’t want to go, but now I’m committed to moving on.

    Sophie : Thanks! Actually, I think it looks quite haphazard and not-terribly-photogenic, but it was just a quick dessert I put together at the last minute.

  13. Christie @ Fig & Cherry said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

    I love the trail of white snow… it looks like it’s trying to escape! (Right into my mouth, hopefully).

  14. Manggy said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

    Oh, that is beautiful. I love the restrained palette. I think I missed what’s the next adventure for you. Wherever it may be, I wish you the best of luck! 🙂

  15. Sophie said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

    Wow, what a piece of real food art!!!! MMMMMMM…….

  16. Aran said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

    i love anything banana especially is it includes custard of all kinds and a moist cake!

  17. Anita said,

    March 25, 2009 @ 10:21 am

    What a lovely cake and presentation. Beautiful writing too, hope you enjoy your next adventure!

  18. belle said,

    March 25, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

    That’s a nice tribute, I think, to your former co-workers. Hope your new job brings more lovely creations like the banana cake!

  19. Howard said,

    March 25, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

    It’s always hard leaving a work place (especially if it’s on a good note). Let’s hope your new endeavor inspires you even more, though I’m not sure if you can get any better your creations are always awesome!

  20. helen said,

    March 25, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

    What a beautiful creation! I know how you feel – sad, emotional, elated and relieved. Change is always good, and life always works out. I’m looking forward to reading about your next venture!

  21. cakebrain said,

    March 25, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

    Your dessert’s so gorgeous! Personally, I’m not a banana-eater…but I buy bunches of them with the intention of allowing them to get so ripe that I can bake with them! Once they’re in a dessert, I’m all over it! lovely post!

  22. Christy said,

    March 25, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

    I love bananas too, btw!! In any form, because they can only make everything tastes better!! Good luck on the new job, and I’m sure you are excited about where you are going right now! Feeling nostalgic about leaving all the people and familiar environment is normal. But hey you guys can still keep in touch! The best thing about the experience is that it stays even long after the last shift is over, no?

  23. cathy x. said,

    March 26, 2009 @ 10:50 pm

    wowwww that looks delicious! :P** mmmm..
    what’s white chocolate snow? is that like melted chocolate mixed with maltodextrin?

  24. Y said,

    March 27, 2009 @ 8:18 am

    No malto, Cath. More of a frozen powder, this one.

  25. Hilda said,

    March 29, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

    Do you think you could find it in your heart to give us the recipe for the banana custard? I’m hoping it’s actually not pastry cream blended with bananas and really much more banan-ish than that. I’ve been looking for a proper banana custard recipe for a long time and always end up with a variation on the same thing (Pastry cream + bananas).

  26. Y said,

    March 30, 2009 @ 11:30 am

    Hi Hilda! Sorry to disappoint, but it is actually pastry cream and bananas, and I’ve always found it to be very banana in flavour, when made this way. I suppose it depends on what you’re hoping to use the custard for, but I can recommend a few things if you’re having issues with flavour : Try adding a splash of Creme de Banana to your mix, or roast the bananas first before using them. Also, you can infuse the bananas (use very ripe bananas, and throw in some dehydrated banana/banana chips as well, if you have them) into the warm milk you’re using for the custard, before making the custard (like you would for a vanilla bean). I use this method when making banana ice-cream.

  27. Sara said,

    March 31, 2009 @ 1:09 am

    This looks amazing. I always buy bananas when I am grocery shopping because I know I can always find something delicious to make with them. I will have to try this one out soon.

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