MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!! Christmas has not started yet and I am already a couple of kilos heavier than usual. I have been doing goodbye/Christmas lunches, dinners and breakfasts all week before going back to France for the Christmas break and these don’t forgive! Good thing that I don’t eat all the cakes I bake in addition to this, otherwise I would not have fit in my seat on the Eurostar! But hey, that’s part of the festive spirit! My birthday is also just before Christmas (tomorrow actually!) so there is always a lot for me to celebrate at the end of December.
I baked this Banana Toffee cake for the office’s Christmas bake-off and guess what? It was a winner! I won best cake based on looks and taste. I am looking forward to use my prize : Vouchers form Lakeland to buy (even more) cooking gadgets! I did not really expect to win as the recipe and decorating is so simple – but everyone likes their classics I suppose!I only owe this victory to the fact that this Christmas tree cake below was put in a raffle rather than part of the main contest – otherwise it would probably have won all prizes! You can’t see from the picture but there were some actual fairy lights in the cake. Such a great idea if you can’t have a real Christmas tree – and I bet everyone would help you clean up too!
I wish I could decorate cakes like this but that’s not part of my skill set yet, so in the mean time here is my recipe for a yummy Banana Toffee Cake. I am also sharing how I decorated the cake – I am by no means a great cake decorator, but this simple icing makes the trick! Looks good without too much work and technique involved!
For the cake: 300 g self-raising flour – 1 tbsp baking powder – 30 ml milk soured with 2 tbsp lemon juice – 2 eggs – 2 very ripe bananas – 110 g soft butter – 200 g light muscovado sugar – 1/2 tsp salt – 60 g toffee bits
For the icing : red and green sugar paste – juice of 1/2 lemon – icing sugar
1. Preheat your oven to 180C
2. Mix all the ingredients except the toffee bits in the Thermomix 30 seconds/Speed 5
3. Add the toffee bits and mix on Reverse position for 10 seconds/Speed 4
4. Pour the cake batter in a rectangular silicon cake tin and bake for 45 minutes.
5. While the cake is in the oven, you can prepare the icing and decorations. You will not actually put it on the cake before the latter is completely cold, otherwise it will melt, but there is already quite a lot you can do now.
6. First, prepare your surface by dusting it with icing sugar. This ensure that your decorations don’t stick. Dust your surface with icing as often as possible and more often than not. It is so frustrating when you have made a cute design and it gets destroyed when you lift it off the surface just because it sticks to it.
7. Knead the green sugar paste for about a minute before using it to make it more pliable and therefore easier to work with.
8. Coat your rolling pin with icing sugar too before using it. Then roll the green sugar paste on your work surface into a sheet a couple of millimeters thick.
9. Use a cookie cutter in the shape of a holly leaf to make your design. You can also use a sharp knife to cut it out freehand. I have used this technique before and the easiest is to draw the design (here the holly) on a sheet of paper and then place the paper on the sugar paste and cut the shape out with a sharp knife.
10. Once you have cut out your leaves you can print the lines on the holly using a toothpick. Reserve on the side, on a surface dusted with icing sugar.
11. Then make little balls of red icing for the fruit, 2 for each leaf. You decorations are now ready.
12. To make them stick on the cake, I have used some simple runny icing. I mixed the juice of 1/2 lemon with icing sugar until I obtained a syrupy consistency and I used this icing as glue.
13. If you are not sure how to position the decorations on the cake, you can practice a bit by positioning them lightly on the cold cake, without pressing down. Once you are ready, lightly brush the bottom side of each leaf with icing and position it on the cake, then gently press down. Once all the leaves are on the cake, put a drop of icing on the bottom of each red “berry” and press them down gently next to the leaves.
14. That’s it! Allow the icing to set for a couple of hours and your cake is ready!