Brandy-infused cranberries and a crumble-topped cranberry, walnut and banana cake
On Saturday, I asked my husband if he would like me to make anything for his family as they were coming over for Sunday lunch the next day.
Him: “Cake.” he said.
Me: “That’s it? Just cake. Any particular cake?”
Him: “No, just cake.” And then he wandered off back to his office.
Only problem was, we’d just spent the day outdoors walking in the countryside (pictures here), which meant that I couldn’t nip to the shops anymore. I had to make do with what was in the house and so I ended up making a crumbly cranberry, walnut and banana cake but with a twist!
Baking with booze
Over at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide (awesome blog if you’ve never visited it before), they have a tendency to cook with booze. I love it as my mum used to cook a lot with it too, but she was never a baker and so would only tend to add alcohol to savoury dishes. I’m therefore not as adventurous using it in baking either (plus I’m not a very good baker). However, I decided to take a leaf out of their book this weekend, rehydrating the cranberries I used in a brandy and tea mix, and what a result!
My husband was firstly concerned about the combination of cranberries and banana, and was originally adamant that brandy shouldn’t be added to a tea cake like this as it would make it too ‘Christmassy’ again. However, even he agreed today’s experiment worked. The banana flavour didn’t overpower the cranberry, and vice versa, and the brandy was so subtle that I will even add more the next time I make this again.
As we’d both been working out that morning, I didn’t even feel a smidgen of guilt eating this with a lovely mug of tea at 4pm. We got through half of the cake with our family and most of the rest will be shared with my colleagues, save for a slice that I left my husband so he could have some with his coffee tomorrow.
The recipe’s below or for a printer-friendlier version, click here.
Lots of love
Crumbly cranberry, banana and walnut cake
For the cake
1 large cup of dried cranberries, rehydrated in 2 tablespoons of brandy and 1 tablespoon of tea (I had some cold English breakfast tea left over from brekkie). In a small saucepan, heat up your brandy and tea and once your liquid starts to boil, turn the heat off and drop your cranberries into it. It’ll soak up all the liquid!
2 medium bananas, cut into 1 cm cubes or chunks
½ cup of chopped walnuts
½ cup unsalted melted butter (125ml of melted butter)
2 large eggs
1¼ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoon vanilla essence
¼ teaspoon almond extract (if you don’t like almonds, leave it out)
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1½ cups plain flour (sifted)
1 cup castor sugar
For the crunchy topping
½ cup plain flour
⅓ cup brown granulated sugar
1½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter (I used 60 grams of butter)
Making the bread
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease/line a loaf pan. Sift the flour and baking soda and leave in a bowl to one side.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer or use the whisk on your stand mixer – beat/whisk on high until fluffy. Add the melted butter and beat until combined.
Add the vanilla essence, almond essence, salt and cinnamon. Beat until thoroughly mixed.
Add the sugar and keep beating.
Turn the mixer to a lower seating a gradually add the flour and blend until smooth. The batter will be very thick, as long as it’s not clumpy, you’re fine!
Turn the mixer off and switch to a wooden spoon or spatula.
Add your cranberries, banana and walnut and mix thoroughly into your cake mix. You might think you haven’t made enough cake mix but that’s normal.
Spoon your cake mixture into your loaf tin and leave it aside while you make the topping.
Making the topping
Combine all the ingredients for your topping and rub the butter into the flour and sugar. They may not resemble the usual coarse breadcrumbs and make be a little tackier because of the butter. Don’t worry as they’ll work just fine.
Evenly spread your topping mixture over the top of your bread.
Pop this into the oven and bake on the centre shelf for an hour.
Do let your cake cool for at least 5 minutes before you move it to a rack to cool down. It’s a bit tricky to cut when it’s still warm so if you want perfect slices, let it go cold before you cut.