THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF MAKING BANANA CAKE

I cracked it!

A monster, angry that it can't make banana cake?

I really thought I’d cracked it!

I have been attempting to make this cake since late 2012 from the first time they aired ‘Gran Hotel’ on Sky Arts (a really great Spanish drama series).

Fast forward to last week. Surely the ninth banana cake HAD to be the charm?

Nope. Just another disastrous result.

Don’t get me wrong, it tastes really nice. It just isn’t…well…cakey. It is really gloopy in the middle and it refuses to rise. I create stubborn little things! It doesn’t matter which recipe I try – with or without milk; extra baking powder etc. – the outcome is always the same. And I’m always left sad and in minor disbelief.

My family have had enough and in exasperation have begged me to quit. Each time, they see me with a different recipe studiously measuring out ingredients; getting flour EVERYWHERE and getting the kitchen in a real mess. Then I get excited at the wonderful banana aroma filling the kitchen and leave the door open to let it waft through the house – the smell is heavenly! Then I peer through the oven glass for minutes a time, fervently hoping that it will rise. And by some strange miracle last week, it did rise, peaking in the middle like a mountain! It looked like a cake, rose like a cake and smelled like a cake. And I knew it would be the best cake I had ever created!

I just knew!

I was filled with jubilant joy and shrieked dancing around the house. I even managed to get my sister excited, who has learnt from long ago, not to expect much of me when it comes to floury things (“You and Flour just aren’t friends.” she says).  I dragged her in to witness the momentous event.

A few minutes later, it was ready. It had been in an hour and the recipe said an hour. Feeling confident, I strode victoriously back into the kitchen, took out a knife from the draw, opened the oven and cautiously plunged the knife vertically into the middle of the cake. I was feeling smug.

Oh oh…

Lifting the knife out, I was puzzled to still see mixture on it. It wasn’t cooked in the middle.

Okay then. A few more minutes would do the trick.

I gave it another 10 minutes. Still the same thing. And I swear it wasn’t as high as when I opened the oven before! The top of the cake was brown. If I had left it any longer it would have burnt. So I had to make a decision. I took it out and made it stand for a few minutes, then flipped it onto a plate. But when I cut it in eager anticipation, I watched it deflate right before my very eyes. And my spirits deflated with it!

It had teased me and mockingly played with my emotions! And it wasn’t just the middle that wasn’t fully formed – it was the whole thing! History once again was repeating itself!

Am I wasting my time (I take ages in the kitchen!), my money and my ingredients?

Not really.

I could eat it all myself in numerous sittings, but for once I would really like to get it right.

But where does perseverance end and wishful thinking take over? Am I flirting with this flimsy line? I mean, I’m good at many things and can cook very well and can make very good chocolate and beetroot cake, but the others in the cake world constantly elude me. Practise makes perfect, but all the years of practise since I was at school (around 18 years) still haven’t enabled me to produce a perfect sponge cake, let alone a banana one.

But I won’t think of it as failure. In fact I’ve just found yet another way of how not to do things, and this list is growing rapidly in my cakey world. It won’t put me off. Because one day, whether next week, month, year or even in the next few decades, I will perfect it. And that will be a truly glorious day. After all, what if I admitted defeat when success manifested in the next attempt?

In the interim, I shall call my attempts ‘Banana Pudding’ until the appointed time I manage to attain ‘perfection’. For now, it’s back to messy kitchens and cakey experiments.

I have faith. Delicious banana cake triumph is waiting for me!

 

Credits: Original Pictures by GraphicStock

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