Last Sunday I hosted a book swap for the English-speaking mothers group I belong to here in Paris. This is the second event of the sort I've hosted and they really are enjoyable, bringing together a group of women with whom I already have two things in common: motherhood and books. Both are infintely fascinating subjects to those who have them in common. We can swap stories as we swap books, happy to hand our too-expensively bought English books to a willing recipient and happy to try something new for free.
Since the party was strategically timed for Universal Snack Time for those under ten (and children were expected) I turned to my faithful Fannie Farmer for inspiration on a sweet snack. And I found it in the Banana cake. As usual, though, I was inspired by my dear Fannie Farmer Cookbook but the reality actually strayed a bit from the track. For one thing, I never have cake flour on hand. I dream of a large walk-in pantry with room for barrels of rice and five kinds of flour. But in reality I ever have flour, all purpose organic unbleached flour. So already the "cake" was tending more to the "bread" category. In addition, I think more bananas will always make a banana cake better. Again, this makes it more dense and more bread-like.
On the other hand, when it's in the hands of a half dozen toddlers wandering around your living room density can be a good thing: it sticks together better.
Lastly, I added chocolate chips. Bananas and chocolate, a perfect marriage. I am pretty sure the toddlers agreed, though their vocabulary was limited and their verbal skills hampered by the cake.
Chocolate Chip Banana Cake
115 grams butter
1 1/5 cups or 300 grams sugar
2 1/2 medium bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (in French, lait ribot)
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Butter and lightly flour a 9 inch cake pan. Cream the butter, slowly add the sugar and beat until light. Add the bananas, eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and beat until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. If you want to be sure they are spread evenly through the cake, you can toss them with a bit of flour first. Mine sank a bit to the lower half of the cake, but it wasn't too bad. Spread the batter in the pan and baker for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (I used a slightly smaller pan, which meant that it took a good 15 minutes longer to bake completely.) Cool in the pan for five minutes b efore turning out onto a rack.
According to the Fannie Farmer, you can fill the cake with Banana Cream Filling and frost it with Portsmouth frosting. I wouldn't recommend it, though, if you are planning on allowing toddlers to wander about with it. The chocolate chips more than make up for any lost richness from the lack of frosting. And because of the density (which was not in the original recipe) it can be eaten without a fork...which was essential for my target audience!