banana chocolate praline crunch cake

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This is simply a celebration of how I think banana cakes should be.

We forever have overripe bananas in the freezer, overambitiously bought in bunches and then left to brown by the end of a week. I had all of the ingredients for this lying around but for the salted roasted almonds and impulse purchased Crunchie bar, but these are probably the two integral items that genuinely make the cake. The praline is like crack in the sense both that it is ridiculously addictive, and also perfectly crunchy. I’m big on flavour combinations, and I think the salty nuttiness is practically perfect, but even better is the fun texture it adds to offset the smooth fudge icing and moist banana cake – which unintentionally ended up with a deliciously crisp cake crust.

I experimented successfully with making this cake gluten free flour, but the omission of gluten was purely to allow everyone to be able to try some, as opposed for taste purposes, so please use normal flour if you would prefer by any means! I find gluten free flour frustrating in that it inevitably produces a much finer crumb, but for those not so pedantic, it is still nearly as good as the real, glutinous thing.

I can safely confirm that all components of the cake are ridiculously delicious, and next level such when assembled and devoured. It is a simple cake to prepare, taking me less then two hours to create its components and then assemble, and uses easily-found ingredients!

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Banana cake (tweaked – reduced sugar from Annabel Langbein)

  • 250g butter, softened (I always just leave out for a few hours, or overnight)
  • 350g (1.5 cups) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, free range and room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 over-ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 125ml (1/2c) warm milk
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 400g (gluten free) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Chocolate fudge icing

  • 340g butter, softened
  • 80g best quality cocoa
  • 500g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 50g milk chocolate, melted
  • 1/4c vanilla yoghurt or sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Salted honeycomb praline

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 150g roasted, salted almonds
  • 50g Crunchie or Violet Crumble bar
  • Sea salt for sprinkling

To decorate: small Toblerone bar, melted chocolate, edible pansy

Bake the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F/180C bake. Grease and line 2 (3 if you have enough) 8inch/20cm cake tins.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat through the bananas and vanilla essence. Combine the baking soda and milk before stirring through the cake batter. Fold in the flour and baking powder until just mixed – careful not to overwork it.
  3. Divide the cake batter into three and pour into prepared cake tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the domes are golden and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes prior to removing from tins to cool further on a rack. When fully cooled, slice the domes off the tops to create an even flat surface, and enjoy sneaking the off-cuts. Wrap in cling film and store in the freezer for at least an hour before icing, but up to a month.

Prep the praline:

  1. Crush the almonds and chocolate honeycomb bar into rough pieces, either in a food processor, mortar and pestle, or by chopping up by hand. Line a medium sized baking tray with baking paper and spread most of the crushed pieces across the bottom, reserving around a quarter of them for sprinkling afterwards.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, stir the caster sugar and water until fully dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium and leave the sugar to come to the boil and bubble away until it starts to turn a dark caramel colour. Remove from heat, wait a few moments for the bubbles to subside and then pour over the top of the nuts and honeycomb. Sprinkle the remaining bits on top, along with a few pinches of sea salt.
  3. To make shapes from your praline, simply grease cookie cutters and place on top of baking paper. Line the base of the cutter with nuts and honeycomb, then pour the caramel on top when ready. The cookie cutters should slide out easily from the praline when it is set – after about an hour.
  4. The praline can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to be used.

Whip up the icing:

  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and cocoa on high speed until fluffy and thoroughly chocolatey. Add the icing sugar in portions, beating well after each addition. Loosen the frosting with the milk chocolate, yoghurt and vanilla essence – beating it through until completely combined. It should now have a perfect consistency for spreading.

Assemble the cake

  1. On your chosen cake stand or turn table, place the first layer of the cake, bottom side down and spread a portion of the icing on the top, smoothing it right out to the edges. Place the next cake layer and repeat the process before topping with the final layer of cake, top side down, right onto the frosting.
  2. Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of the frosting and leave to set in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  3. Crush the praline in a food processor or mortar and pestle, leaving a few choice pieces to be assembled on top of the cake as decoration.
  4. With the remaining icing, spread an even, thicker coat around the entire cake until it is completely covered. Sprinkle the top and sides liberally with crushed praline. Decorate the centrepiece with the moulded praline, if using, or simply rough-sized pieces of the praline, Toblerone and then complete it with a few choice drizzles of melted milk chocolate.



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