Papuan Banana Cake for Breakfast
I love bananas. I eat them almost every day and they keep me healthy. However, no matter how many bananas I eat, I seem to always buy too many, and they get too ripe before I eat them. I don’t throw them away so now I have a freezer full of bananas. Frozen ripe bananas are great when they are thawed out, mashed up and used in muffins and cakes. So the overripe bananas on my counter and the bananas in my freezer are calling out to me to bake with them.
I read that Spaniards often dip cake into their café con leche (known as café latte to Canadians) at breakfast. Canadians don’t eat cake for breakfast. We eat donuts. I’m kidding, actually, we eat donuts any time of the day. We also eat cake any time of the day, with coffee, tea, or even a glass of milk. We like sweets.
What is the origin of banana cake? Let’s start with the origin of bananas and go from there.
Bananas are one of the oldest cultivated plants, native to tropical south and southeast Asia. They were likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea, going back to at least 5000 BCE, and possibly 8000 BCE. They also have a long history of cultivation in Africa. Bananas were first introduced to the Americas by Portuguese sailors who brought them from West Africa in the 16th century. The word banana is of West African origin, from the Wolof language (of Senegal, The Gambia and Mauritania), and passed into English via Spanish or Portuguese. The earliest modern plantations originated in Jamaica and the Western Caribbean.
Bananas are now grown in at least 107 countries. In 2009, India led the world in banana production, representing approximately 28% of the worldwide crop, mostly for domestic consumption. The six leading export countries, which together account for about two thirds of the world’s banana exports (more than 6 million tons) are India, the Philippines, China, Ecuador, Brazil and Indonesia. Most bananas in Canada are imported from Central and South America.
So who first started making cake with bananas? Probably Papua New Guinea, because that is where they were first domesticated.
Papua New Guinea, located in the Pacific Ocean, north of Australia, is one of the most culturally diverse countries. 841 languages are listed for the country, but the official languages are English, Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu. The country gained its independence from Australia in 1975, but it remains a Commonwealth realm of Queen Elizabeth II.
In Papua New Guinea desserts are generally made of fruits, due to the fact that the country has numerous types of exotic fruit trees growing on the fertile soil.
This banana cake recipe is simple and contains ingredients typically found in a baker’s pantry. I topped the cake with Chocolate-Coconut Sauce.
I’m enjoying this cake with Earl Grey Tea while watching the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. Absolutely gorgeous!
Banana Cake Papuan-style
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup of sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 medium size bananas (mashed)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1½ cups of all purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsps baking powder
- 1/2 cup of milk – well enough to give it the right texture, wet, but not runny.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and lightly flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
- Beat butter, sugar and vanilla extract until creamy.
- Gradually beat in eggs and mix in mashed bananas.
- Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and milk until wet. Fold into banana mixture.
- Pour batter into the cake pan.
- Bake for 45–50 minutes until a toothpick in centre comes out clean.
This sauce incorporates two very important ingredients that are grown in Papua New Guinea. After coffee, cocoa is Papua New Guinea’s second most important agricultural export crop. Coconut is an important source of food and cash crop in Papua New Guinea. Currently, more than two thirds of coconuts are interplanted with cocoa as this system offers the best prospects for future growth. Coconuts provide the shade that the cocoa needs and inter-cropping reduces the cost of production of both crops, increasing the farmer’s earnings.
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- Finely chop chocolate in a food processor.
- Place chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl.
- Heat the coconut milk in the microwave (approx. 1 1/2 minutes) or in a saucepan until boiling. (Stir intermittently to prevent scalding.)
- Pour the milk over the chocolate, ensuring the the milk completely covers the chocolate.
- Cool the chocolate mixture for 30-40 minutes. After it has cooled for about 10 minutes and looks melted, gently stir.
- Beat the mixture until smooth.