Passion fruit icing takes this gorgeous classic banana tea loaf off into a different dimension.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin with butter. Line the base with baking paper.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Beat the egg in a cup. Mash the bananas with a fork.
- Tip the soft butter into a second bowl. Beat it well with a wooden spoon to cream it up.
- Add the sugar to the butter. Cream together with a rapid beating movement until the mix is light, pale and airy. This could take up to 5 minutes. Creaming well ensures a great textured cake.
- Now, add the beaten egg just a bit at a time, beating hard during/between additions. If the mix starts to split (curdle) add 2 good pinches of the flour and keep beating the mix vigorously.
- Add the flour in one go. Fold the mix together with a large metal spoon and a few light figure of eight movements. Cut down into the mix and turn and scoop lightly to retain the air. When the mix comes together, add the mashed banana, date, rind, vanilla, a bit of juice. Fold it in with minimal movements until evenly distributed. Your mix should drop easily off the end of your spoon. Add a drop of milk or lemon juice if it seems dry. You want ‘soft dropping consistency’.
- Spoon the mix evenly into the tin. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Take a look after 30. Cover tin with baking paper if it’s browning too soon. Test for doneness: insert a cocktail stick/strand of dry spaghetti into the centre. It should come out clean, the cake golden and risen. It may crack a bit but don’t worry.
- Remove to a rack. For a glazed finish, brush the top immediately with a bit of honey or apricot jam dissolved in a bit of water. For an iced finish, allow to cool first.
- ICING: melt the butter and leave it to cool. Cut the passion fruit across. Scoop the contents into a sieve over a bowl and push the juice through.
- Make the icing when the cake is quite cold. Melt the butter in a small pan. Tip into a dish to cool.
- Sift the icing sugar into a larger bowl. Add the melted butter, a teaspoon of passion fruit juice, a squeeze of lemon, a little grated rind and the milk. Beat to create an icing which is spreadable ie neither too runny nor thick. Taste it as you go. It should fizz deliciously on your tongue. Add a bit more sugar if you need to or a bit of extra milk or fruit juice.
- Using a metal spatula or a large metal spoon, or both, tip and spread the icing over your cake. Let it dribble over the sides artistically or keep it neat. I like to place a few pieces of dried cranberry on top for decoration. You could use dried sour cherry, blueberry or bits of fresh fruit if eating at once.
- Store in an airtight tin. This one keeps a few days. This works for afternoon tea or a lunch box or breakfast. Serve on a cake stand if you have one and cut into slices.