A very deserving lady had a birthday recently, and as it happened it fell on a Sunday. And not just any Sunday. It was a Sunday I was rostered on for supper at church! That probably sounds ridiculously dorky, and I suppose it is! But I enjoy hospitality a lot, and serving people through food at church is a surprisingly effective way to connect with people and be a blessing to the community. So, yes, I’m rather dorky, but also love my church family a lot, and therefore take my supper responsibilities fairly seriously!
As I was saying, it was said person’s birthday that Sunday, so how could I pass up the opportunity to make a pretty cake for her?! I’ve never been a fan of public Happy Birthday renditions, especially when they’re directed at me, and I’m aware that other people feel the same. So I never wanted to make a big fuss about her birthday so as to embarrass her, but I still wanted to do something small to acknowledge her birthday.
So I did!
I made a cake. But of course, I’m a baker, I often make cakes, so that doesn’t mean a whole lot. But in my head there are a few different types of cakes (be warned, my head is a crazy place, so if this doesn’t make any sense, I completely understand, but bear with me): there are the standard, there’s a long meeting and people need sustenance cakes; the more deliberate and special, it’s something important like a birthday and therefore needs to be slightly more impressive than an un-iced long-meeting chocolate cake cakes, and then there are the showstoppers – the gateaux, the tarts, the tiered wedding cakes that scream LOOK AT ME, I’M PRETTY AND WILL CAUSE YOUR STOMACH MUCH DELIGHT, SO PAY ATTENTION AND APPRECIATE ME.
And as there really seem to be only 3 categories of cake (though I will concede that there are different levels of fanciness within those categories), it’s important to make sure that you keep the boundaries clear (boundaries are important in every aspect of life, even baking, apparently)! That often means using more basic flavours for less fancy cakes, and more complex flavours for fancier cakes. And of course, the decoration is basically the dead give-away! The thing people notice first about a cake is how good it looks. But the thing they notice the most is how it tastes! The amount of times people have said to me, I just can’t believe how tasty that cake was, I mean, it looked good, but it tasted amazing!, I think proves this – a pretty cake is impressive, but a pretty cake that tastes good is beyond impressive.
So I think I nailed it in terms of this one: it was a banana cake which means it’s not super impressive, but always a good, safe and reasonably popular option, and the decoration, though simple, made it seem rather special!
110g softened butter
¼ cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp lemon juice
1½ cups buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
3 cups self-raising flour
3 or 4 smashed very ripe bananas
- Preheat oven to 150C fan forced and grease and flour a bundt pan.
- Using a stand mixer beat butter, oil and sugars until combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix just until combined.
- Then add vanilla, salt and buttermilk until fully combined.
- Add flour and cinnamon and mix gently by hand and then add bananas and mix gently again for only a few seconds.
- Pour the cake batter into the bundt pan filling to about an inch below the top of the tin and bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Once cool, ice with a mixture of icing sugar and lemon juice and top with fresh flowers.