making the decision to hand over your spare front door key to a friend or neighbour is one of those decisions that should not be taken lightly… on the one hand it’s the ultimate in trust… with this gesture it gives them access to your private space, the place where you come to that is truly yours… your home… your heart… your family… it’s not just about watering the plants or picking up the post… or even being there when you stumble home drunk, late at night and you’ve dropped your keys down a drain… what…?
… no… this is so much more… it’s knowing that they will be there for you when you’ve stupidly left the oven on… or they’ll start a fire for you when they know you’re coming home from London and the house is cold… or they’ll make sure the dog is kept company when you’re stuck somewhere and won’t be back late…
… when we moved in to Belleau Cottage nearly 10 years ago I had no hesitation handing my keys over to Tracey… i didn’t know her from Adam but it felt not only like the right thing to do but the only thing that made sense… this person would take care of my sacred place…
… of course it goes both ways… many a morning i’ve received a text from Tracey asking me to hang the washing that’s still in the machine onto the line… it’s not every neighbour who doesn’t mind hanging someone else’s husbands pants out!
Coffee and Banana Triple Layer Cake
its Tracey’s birthday on Sunday so i’m spoiling her with cake… and i’ve been sent some rather wonderful Coffee Extract from a lovely company called Little Pod who specialise in responsibly sourced, high quality vanilla and chocolate products… the Coffee Extract is a new product from them so the details are not on the website yet but should be by the end of next week… I always worry about using extracts and flavourings like this as many can have that dreaded aftertaste that lingers but so charmed by them and their glorious product that I feel very happy sharing how excellent it is with you…
… as you can see the cake has come out quite dense but this is the banana in the sponge mix, plus I think a little better mixing of the batter on my behalf would have helped… it tastes bloody amazing so i’m not so bothered but I guess it goes to show that i’m not quite as perfect as I generally like you to think I am!
for the cake batter
12oz plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 bananas – mashed
400g caster sugar
6 eggs separated
3 tsp Little Pod Coffee Extract (you could use an espresso cup of fresh coffee)
for the mascarpone icing
225g cream cheese
icing sugar to taste
225ml double cream
4 tsp Little Pod Coffee Extract (you could use an espresso cup of fresh coffee)
1 banana – finely sliced
– pre-heat the oven to 180C or 160C fan
– butter and line 3 x 20cm round cake tins
– with a very large bowl and a hand-held double whisk, cream the butter and 300g of the sugar until pale and fluffy
– add the egg yolks one at a time gently whisking until combined, then add the mashed banana and the coffee extract and whisk again
– weigh the flour and add the baking powder and then sift one third into the batter and whisk, then half the milk and whisk. Continue in this fashion until the flour and milk have gone
– in a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks then add the remaining sugar and whisk again till firm glossy peaks appear, gently fold this into the cake batter
– divide between the three cake tins and bake for 35 mins until golden and a knife or skewer comes out clean, set aside until completely cool
– to make the icing simply whisk the two cream cheeses together with a table spoon of icing sugar… don’t go too heavy on the icing sugar… and then add the cream and coffee extract and whisk until firm
– place the bottom cake layer on your cake stand or plate and spread a layer of icing onto it, then add a single layer of thinly sliced bananas, repeat with the second layer. Place the third layer on top and ice the entire cake liberally with the remaining icing…
i’d like to take a moment to thank Ruth from The Pink Whisk, Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog and Karen from Lavender and Lovage plus a host of nubile tweet friends for offering me recipes for this… I kind of combined a few!