My parents, of Chinese origin but having been born and raised in Vietnam, were fond of telling my brothers and I how good we had in Australia. Growing up, we had a lovely mix of cultures - we had the Vietnamese food, the Chinese food and then we also acclimatised quite well into Australian culture with our barbecues, McDonalds and Dad's adoption of VB! One of my childhood memories is that of my Auntie making delicious banana cake, cake that I devoured. She made it with sweet lady finger bananas, and when I was recently faced with the luxury of a bunch of over ripe bananas, I started searching for recipes and was elated when I quickly came across one for Vietnamese banana cake!
The recipe was from Luke Nguyen, of Red Lantern and Fat Noodle, in his Song of Sapa cookbook. However, as I read through the recipe, I couldn't help myself (as I rarely can!) and adapted it to reduce to reduce the butter and sugar content - having my parents' good health in mind of course!
5 medium ripe bananas, sliced thinly
1/4 cup caster sugar
7 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, melted (the Luke Nguyen recipe calls for 1 cup of melted butter)
1 cup condensed milk (the Luke Nguyen recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups of condensed milk)
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and grease and line a round cake tin.
2. In a bowl, place the bananas and sugar, toss to combine.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs for a minute until combined.
4. Add the butter and condensed milk, stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
5.Add the flour, stir until all the flour thoroughly mixed in.
6. Fold in the coconut and banana, and then pour the mixture into the cake tin.
7. Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes. You might want to check it at 40 minutes - I found that the top of mine got quite dark, so I covered it with foil for the remainder of the baking time.
8. At 50 minutes, check the cake with a skewer. If it comes out dry, turn off the heat yet leave the cake in the oven for another 15 minutes. If not dry, continue to bake for another 10 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and let it cool completely in the pan before turning out and serving.
This cake is by no means fluffy and light like traditional baked cakes - it is dense and has a smooth texture, and a small slice was more than enough for me. It is a very faithful replication of the traditional Vietnamese cakes that I remember from my childhood - albeit not as sweet as I reduced the sugar content. If you like your cakes to be quite sweet, add another 1/4 cup of condensed milk as the true recipe calls for!
I baked this and took it over to my parents' place, eager to see if they thought it was the same. Their more refined and critical tastebuds detected that I used dessicated coconut whereas the family recipe had traditionally used coconut milk, but other than that, the cake was as they remembered it to be... and for that, I consider it a success!