Cake of the Month ~ Banana- hazelnut crumble cake

I buy bananas. I put them in the fruit bowl. They remain in the fruit bowl until their skins are black. I then put them in the freezer. This is not what I have in mind when I buy them. In my mind's eye I see them yellow, speckled lightly with brown and packed in a lunch box to sustain my children and husband through the rigours of the school/work day. The reality is that they prefer apples.

And that's why there were nine black bananas in my freezer. I vowed to stop buying bananas until I'd used them all up. Banana cake, or bread if you like, is the salvation of black bananas. I've made a few in my time.
Nigel Slater's version with chocolate chunks was excellent. I used pecans in place of the hazelnuts and chopped them roughly rather than grinding finely. Tom, who is very keen on banana cakes thought it was fantastic. Nigella Lawson's version with coconut and cherries from Kitchen was not so successful. Oversweet and undercooked. It wasn't done after the specified time, nor after another ten minutes, fifteen minutes after that I took it out of the oven. The first third of the cake was cooked but the middle was still a gooey mess. I put the remaining cake back in the oven for another twenty-five minutes after which it was still too moist. I like a moist cake but this was too much, even Tom didn't care for it. I ended up throwing it away which is something that has never happened before.

I decided to see what I could come up with. The crunch of nuts in the Nigel Slater cake combined very well with the squidge of the bananas- this is perhaps where the Nigella recipe went wrong. I had plenty of hazelnuts but walnuts and pecans would have worked just as well. I ground them coarsely in the food processor (hazelnuts are difficult to chop on a board), but you could put them in a bag and bash them with a rolling pin so that you get lots of different sized bits. You can't expect to make an edible cake by throwing random amounts of flour and sugar into a bowl so I used the Nigel Slater recipe as a framework and added  some extra crunch to my cake in the form of a nutty crumble topping.

Black bananas freeze well for use in baking but not for much else. After a couple of minutes in the microwave they resemble giant slimy grubs.

Mash them with a fork quick before you start to feel queasy.

Banana-hazelnut crumble cake

Cream together with an electric whisk
6 oz (170g) soft butter
6 oz (170g) caster sugar
When light and fluffy add
2 beaten eggs
Fold in 
6 oz (170g) self-raising flour
Next stir in
2 very ripe bananas, defrosted if frozen and mashed
4 oz (110g) coarsely ground hazelnuts. I toasted mine first and rubbed off as much of the skins as I could in a tea towel.

Pour the mixture into a an 8 inch (20 cm) deep cake tin which you have base-lined and greased.

Now make the crumble
In a bowl put;
2 oz (55g) soft brown sugar
3 oz (85g) plain flour
1 tsp of  ground cinnamon
2 oz (55g) coarsely chopped hazelnuts
Next either 
Rub in 2 oz (55g) butter
stir in 2 oz melted butter
I rubbed in the butter which made the topping very crumbly and apt to fall off as you ate it. If you would prefer your crumble to stay put try the melted butter option which should produce a more clumped together topping. Both will be good.

Sprinkle the crumble over the cake mixture and bake at 180°c (160°c fan oven) for 1 hour - 1 hour 10 mins, or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

The result was moist but not too much, crunchy, nutty and very moreish.

Tom gave it the thumbs up.



  1. Aftenoon.
    I don't bake Nigella cakes anymore. I think she is in a different time/space zone from me.
    We don't really do bananas here either and there are quite a few in my freezer so perhaps I will let them slug this afternoon and then turn them into crumble cake. Delish.
    Hope the rain isn't annoying you too much, Ax

  2. Winding Ways1:11 pm BST

    Another nice thing to do with frozen bananas is to whip them up in your food processor, using a tiny bit of milk if necessary to get a smooth consistency. You can serve this like ice cream, with chocolate sauce and whip cream, or just plain. Everyone in my family likes this dessert, and they don't even realize it's healthy.
    I find that peeling the bananas before you freeze them makes the whole process much simpler.

  3. This sounds and look delicious!

  4. jamsandwich1:32 pm BST

    Way! My freezer is full of black bananas so I shall try this out tomorrow. I love Nigel his recipes always work unlike some other celebrity chefs!

  5. Oh that seems the perfect cake for a wet and windy day. Shockingly, it has never occurred to me to freeze black bananas, I am going to go and will the current bananas to blacken, I cannot wait to freeze them.

    1. You don't have to freeze them to make this cake but they do have to be very ripe.

  6. My default banana cake recipe is a different Nigella one - the Banana Bread recipe from Domestic Goddess. I usually swap the rum for tea, and the walnuts for hazelnuts, and it works like a dream every time.

    I too buy bananas and then find I have a freezer full of black ones, which I then use to make cake. I should just put the bananas straight into the freezer.

    N x

    1. I must look up that Nigella recipe. I've made other cakes of hers and they've been fine and the chocolate orange loaf in Kitchen is fab.

      The same thought re the bananas and the freezer occurred to me.

    2. My favourite banana cake is Bill Granger's chocolate and banana loaf; my children favour squares of chocolate and banana 'black bottom' bars - here http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Black-Bottom-Banana-Bars

    3. Oh, they do sound good. There are loads of banana cake recipes aren't there? Makes you wonder if you are supposed to eat them raw. Surely their purpose on earth is to become cake?

  7. Pati from London3:39 pm BST

    May give it a go to use old bananas but am not a keen banana eater, I must say... I did try your thrifty pasties idea the other day, though and filled puff pastry with leftovers of a bolognese sauce I had made and they all went down a treat. Everyone loved them!! Thanks for so much inspiration, Sue. Pati x

    1. Bolognese pasties sound gorgeous.

  8. My go-to banana bread is Sophie Dahl's. So very quick and easy, it doesn't last long.
    This, however, looks divine and I shall be serving it up at a craft club evening very soon. Thank you!

  9. You are a constant source of useful information. Today I have learned that I can freeze black bananas and, although I think they look particularly disgusting I will certainly bear this in mind.

    I use John Barrowman's (Captain Jack in Dr Who) recipe - http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/bananabread_85720 - which works very well for me. It's very plain but I'm sure it would cope with additional ingredients.

  10. Ooh I love bananas - yes I think nigella's clocks are broke, most of her cakes always need up to 20 minutes more in my oven :) my go to recipe is Rachel Allens banana and chocolate bread from her gorgeous 'Bake' book
    Victoria xx

  11. We are on a constant hunt for the perfect banana cake/bread so I shall definitely be giving this one a try. On the subject of Nigella, the clementine cake in How to Eat is now an indispensable part of our Christmas celebrations.

  12. I must have a house monkey then - our bananas never get a chance to go black!

  13. I believe I have a couple of bananas in the freezer, so this recipe is very timely, thanks!

  14. We love bananas here so black ones aren't a problem. But the farm shop sells their blackening bananas cheaply so I will give this a go. It looks delicious :D

  15. Not often that a recipe makes me laugh out loud, but yours did!

  16. This sounds and looks like a yummy recipe. Now I know what to do with all those black bananas in my freezer. Thanks!

  17. I'm another one who has had trouble with Nigella's cake timings. Don't get me wrong, I love Nigella's books and TV shows, but I have always found that I need to give sometimes as much as an extra 30 minutes.

    I was blaming my oven, but maybe I should be blaming hers!

    A few suggestions from other readers that I shall be trying out, now.

  18. Looks delicious! I didn't realise you could freeze black bananas. Another thing I've learnt from your blog!

  19. I make drinks from frozen, overripe bananas. Just put one in the microwave for a few seconds so you can peel the skin off, chop and throw in the blender with milk or yogurt and some fruit. I've also just used milk and a glob of coffee syrup.


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