41. Otto and Fanny’s Fijian Banana Cake

Welcome to Otto and Fanny’s

When choosing which island to visit in Fiji the Yasawas stood out a mile, mainly due to the lure of wonderful food at Otto’ and Fanny’s. We spent an entire week soaking up the scorching Sun, lounging in hammocks,

wandering down idyllic white sandy beaches,

The perfect beach

avoiding falling coconuts, going to bed when the electric was switched off and rising when the drums called us for breakfast. It was absolutely perfect.

Our beautiful straw bure – Home Sweet Home

In our straw bure, despite the cockroaches and millions of mosquitos, who can’t help but be happy when you’re being fed freshly caught fish which is so thick it was difficult to tell if it was fish or meat?

Bula Bula! Welcome to Fanny and Otto’s where the wine is  almost the same price as the water

And when the wine is (almost) cheaper than the water! Frankly I could spend my life sunbathing and eating if only the mosquitos didn’t love me so much…

Afternoon tea at Fanny and Otto’s was infamous with travellers making a special trip just to sample the delights. We ate banana cake and chocolate cake by the boat load with a hot cup of tea made from collected rain water.

What’s not to love?

The cake itself was worth the 5hour boat rude to reach the Yasawas. I haven’t been able to find the exact recipe to recreate the tremendous square slabs of banana cake but I reckon this one is pretty close. I also failed to take a photo of the cake in question! ( This was back in the day before I had a baking blog or the thought had even crossed my mind…)

Fijian Banana Cake

This cake is really quick to make and feeds a lot of people! It’s good by itself and even better with custard!

Step 1: Beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy

I use an electric whisk to get the butter really fluffy. Keep whisking until it becomes a lighter colour – then you know it;s full of wonderful air.

2. The one handed egg crack technique – multi tasking to the extreme

Whisk in the eggs one at a time. It’s taken some practice but I’ve mastered the one handed egg cracking technique now. It makes this whisking so much quicker! Don’t worry if it starts to look like it’s curdling, just keep whisking. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of your  bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is incorporated into the batter.

Keep whisking… until it’s really fluffy

Whisk in the flour

Normally I would fold in flour to a fluffy egg batter to preserve the air content and ensure a light and tender sponge, however the recipe didn’t say to do this. I was feeling particularly lazy and the thought of washing another spoon saddened me. So I reckoned I could just keep using the electric whisk. After all when Mary Berry uses self raising flour in sponge cakes she whisks everything using her ‘all in one method’ and it always works!

Add the mushed up bananas

This cake is perfect if you have a few brown bananas that need to be used up. Mash up your tired bananas and add them to the mix. Again I was already using the whisk so I thought let’s carry on regardless. Let’s whisk these bananas up too!

Pour in the coconut milk

Coconut milk is a wonderful addition to this cake. Coconut and banana goes so well together! I added slightly more milk than the recipe asked for as I chose to use wholemeal flour, which is a bit drier than plain flour. It’s also more of a healthy option. I can’t pretend that I chose this purely for health benefits however, as I had a bag of self raising wholemeal flour that needed to be eaten. It worked beautifully!

Whisk everything together into a liquid batter

With the final whisk the liquid banana batter is ready for the oven. Don;t be alarmed by how runny it is! It means the mixture spreads out really well into all the corners of your tin. Producing a really smooth surface, which is pratically unheard of in my cakes.

Pre baking

A mere 40 minutes in the oven and you have a perfect slice of Fiji on your plate. This cake is amazing. It was wonderful straight from the oven but even better the following day all by itself. It developed a sweet gloss on the top after a day of rest in my cake box. It’s a beautifully moist cake and the added texture from the wholemeal flour gave it an extra dimension.

Golden Brown texture like sun

With slivers of banana making an appearance throughout the cake it makes a wonderful breakfast cake (but then again show me a cake not fit for breakfast!), a mid afternoon pick me up or a full on pudding with custard/ice cream. Just take your biggest knife and chop it into rectangular slabs and devour.

Otto and Fanny’s Fijian Banana Cake

It just so happened that I was preparing for another race (post Great North Run!) The Edinburgh Great Run 10k and bananas a my favourite running fuel. This is now my favourite running cake. Delicious and nutritious.

Bananas and custard – so comforting

Things that I used to make Otto and Fanny’s Fijian Banana Cake

Serves more than 20 (small -ish portions)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 table spoons butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 cups of wholemeal or normal self raising flour (If using plain flour (all purpose), add 5 teaspoons of baking powder)
  • 1 ½ cups of milk or coconut milk (add a bit more – 1 can of coconut milk – if using wholemeal flour)
  • 4 bananas
  • one deep rectangular baking tray (approx 9cms by 25cm)
  • bake for 40-45 minutes at about 170 degrees c

Wish you were here

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30. Beautiful Bara Brith! Welsh Tea Loaf

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Bara Brith!

My friend Dicky who I met on Twitter asked me if I was planning any Welsh bakes recently. I’ve been thinking about baking Welsh cakes for a little while and asked Dicky for his favourite Welsh baking recipes. He very kindly shared with me his Bara Brith recipe. This is a wonderful fruity tea loaf that’s feels so healthy I don’t feel any guilt in eating a slice or three… I absolutely loved this bake!

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find self-raising wholemeal flour as I’ve never noticed it before in the local shops, but lo and behold I found it in the first place I looked. The stars had most definitely aligned to help me create this Welsh classic.

Tea soaked fruit

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I soaked my fruit in hot strong black tea overnight. I must admit I had to improvise with the dried fruit that I had in the cupboard. I used a combination of sultanas and dried pear. (And threw in a little extra for luck!)

Unfortunately my measuring jug doesn’t have a vast amount of detail on it so I also guessed a little as to how much 2 thirds of a pint of tea is. I did add a little more freshly brewed tea to the final loaf mix later on as the fruit absorbed most of it to get it to the right ‘dropping consistency’.

For an added oomph I splashed in a little lemon juice to the tea and fruit also. I was worried that I might forget to buy a lemon to add it’s zest to the batter. (However I did remember and think the lemon zest really helps to lift the flavour of the loaf.)

The remaining tea

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After soaking the fruit in tea I strained the fruit and kept the remaining tea for future use.

Mixing in all the flour, spices, sugar and zest

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I added the flour, spices, sugar, and egg to the fruit and mixed it all up along with the zest of one lemon.

The perfect dropping consistency

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Then I gradually added the tea to the mix until it became a smooth and shiny fruit studded paste that drops slowly, but surely from the bowl when poured into the tin. Also known as the right dropping consistency.

I had prepared a loaf tin by thoroughly greasing and lining it with greaseproof paper.

Pre oven Bara Brith

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Then all it required was some 45-55 minutes in the oven at 170 degrees C. When it is risen nicely and has turned a lovely golden brown colour, it will be firm to the touch. Then ta da! A perfect Bara Brith is born!!

Fresh from the oven Bara Brith

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Dicky recommended eating it, once it has cooled, with lashings of butter and it is wonderful with a proper cup of tea. It’s a gently spicy sponge with plump and juicy tea soaked fruit. The wholemeal flour gives it a great texture too. What more could you need!

Bara Brith dressed in butter

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I enjoyed it for breakfast but it would be wonderful at any time of day. I must confess we also ate it with custard and bananas for pudding one night too. 🙂 Delicious!!!

Naked Bara Brith

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Thank you so much for sharing your recipe Dicky. This will definitely be one of my staple home bakes in the future. I think I might even bake some and freeze them for future use! Also if you would like to follow Dicky on twitter I recommend that you do, he’s a lovely guy, training to be a chef and always baking something amazing. You can find his profile here.

If you have an international recipe that you would like to suggest or send my way, please let me know. You can leave me a comment below if you like. Thanks you so much for reading and all your comments are gratefully received.

Naughty Bara Brith dressed in custard and bananas

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Things that I used

One 2lb loaf tin

Preheated oven at 170 degrees C,  350F or Mark 4

  • 10 oz (or 285g)  mixed dried fruit (I added a bit more than this for luck probably around 12oz/300g)
  • 2/3 pint hot tea (no milk)
  • 3 oz (or 85g) soft brown sugar
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 12 oz (or 340g) self raising wholemeal flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice ( I am always rather on the generous side with spices so used 1tsp ginger, 1tsp cinnamon 1tsp allspice)
  • 1 large egg ( I used a medium egg as it was all that I had in and it worked well)