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The Banana Chelsea

As the title implies, this is a recipe for a Chelsea style bun. But the thing that makes it different is that mashed banana is incorporated through the dough, giving the bun a real banana hit!

They look and taste great, but I got a bit worried that you can’t see any banana, so I did do some decoration with a few banana slices and some toffee. I think this was “gilding the lily”. They’re fine on their own!

Ingredients

350g strong flour
1 teaspoon salt
100g tepid water
10g dry yeast
20g sugar
50g buttermilk
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Filling
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup hazelnut praline paste (This paste is sometimes hard to source, so you could substitute Nutella)

Icing
200g icing sugar
Enough water to make a smooth paste

Method

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Put the tepid water, yeast and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Leave it to sit for a few minutes, to allow the yeast to start to activate.

When the mixture is frothy, add the buttermilk and the mashed bananas. Mix well using the dough hook.

Add the flour and salt mixture to the bowl and continue to mix with the dough hook on low speed the dough is smooth and starts to become elastic. Add the vegetable oil and mix until the dough becomes soft and silky.

Form the dough into a ball and place it into a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film, or my favourite, a disposable plastic shower cap. I always use shower caps to rise dough, as they neatly fit over the top of the bowl! Allow to dough to rise for 60-90 minutes, until roughly doubled in size.

Towards the end of rise, get your filling ready. Melt the butter gently in a microwave on low, and have your brown sugar and praline paste/Nutella on hand.

Flour a work surface. Turn out the dough and knead gently for a few minutes until the dough is soft and pliable.

Roll out the dough into a big, long rectangle. The rectangle should be about 20cm wide. It’s hard to say how long the rectangle is, at least 50 cms, but it could be longer. I judge by the thickness of the dough, rolling out to get a decent length, but you do want dough that’s not too thin, just thick enough to encase the filling.

Spread the melted butter over the dough rectangle, then sprinkle over the brown sugar. Dot the dough with the praline paste or Nutella, as you can’t really spread the paste.

Roll up the dough along its long edge into as tight a cylinder you can get, being careful as the dough is quite hard to manage. Slice the cylinder into roughly equal pieces using a sharp knife. I usually get about 12 buns per cylinder, but the number of buns will vary depending on how large you want the finished product.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper and arrange the buns cut end down. Cover the tray with cling film or put inside a large plastic bag. I have several of these that I have rescued after I’ve had something delivered. Leave to rise for another 60-90 minutes at room temperature, until the buns are noticeable bigger, but not necessarily doubled in size.

15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced.

Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the buns are a deep golden brown colour. You can check after 15 minutes to make sure the buns are not browning too quickly – if so, cover the top with foil for the last part of the baking.

Remove from the oven, and cool to room temperature. Once the buns are cooled, drizzle with water icing.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar with enough water until the icing is thick but of dropping consistency. Drizzle the icing over the buns using a fork or spoon.

The Banana Chelsea is now ready to eat! But if you want to prove the bun is actually a banana Chelsea, by all means top with a slice or two of banana and even a few toffee shards. I did do this, but really, the buns taste like banana, so there’s really no need for additional advertising!

Banana and Date Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Icing

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Recently I made Figgy Banana Bread from Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food. I love it because it’s got nuts and seeds, and I’m mad on both. Plus the banana, figs and apple in the recipe give it a beautiful natural sweetness. It tastes great and feels healthy.

I decided to make banana bread using the principle of the Jamie recipe with a few changes. I changed the figs for dates for a start as I wanted the kind of caramel flavor that dates bring. And I made it as a cake, or rather 2 small cakes, one round, one square. I iced the little cakes with luscious salted caramel buttercream icing. The “healthy” benefits may have been put to one side, but hay, you don’t have to be good all the time!

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So here is the recipe. The quantities make one one medium size cake or two small cakes. You could even make this cake in a loaf tin and forgo the icing and you will have nice  banana and date bread…

Ingredients

Cake

170g pitted dates

75ml vegetable oil

125g natural yoghurt

1 tbs vanilla extract

4 ripe bananas

2 large free-range eggs

150g wholemeal self-raising flour

1 heaped tsp baking powder

100g ground almonds

1 tbs sesame seeds

1tsp ground ginger

Buttercream Icing

100g softened butter

200g icing sugar

1 tbs salted caramel sauce (you can make your own – recipe below, or simply use dulce de leche or any caramel sauce with a little salt added)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease one round baking tin or two small tins or bake the mixture in a large loaf tin for the more conventional banana bread look.

Place the dates in a food processor and blitz till the dates are  really finely chopped. The add the oil, yoghurt, vanilla extract, peeled and roughly chopped bananas and eggs, and blitz until smooth.

Add the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, sesame seeds and ground ginger and pulse until only just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin(s) and spread out evenly. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes for the large cake or 25 t0 30 minutes for the small cakes or until until a skewer inserted into the cake(s) comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

When cool, remove from the tin(s) and ice generously with the salted caramel icing. I also drizzled the cakes with extra caramel sauce.

Buttercream Icing

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer or you can even use a food processor  When light, fluffy and creamy stir in the salted caramel.

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Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

200g white sugar

90g salted butter, in small pieces

120ml cream

1 tsp salt

Method

Heat the sugar in a heavy bottomed  saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar turns into a tea coloured liquid as you continue to stir. At this stage the toffee/caramel flavour is achieved. If you take the liquid to a slightly darker brown colour, you will achieve that “burnt’ flavour – but beware it is really easy to actually burn the caramel!

Now add the butter very carefully – the caramel will bubble up. Stir the caramel until the butter is completely melted.

Pour in the cream while continuing to stir. The mixture will  bubble when cream is added. Allow the mixture to boil for about a minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the  salt.

Allow to cool before using. The caramel will thicken on cooling and thicken even more in the fridge. To ensure the caramel sauce is pour-able for the pavlovas, VERY carefully microwave to warm up on low heat. Or you could sit the container in a bowl of hot water to warm up.

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