HT Brunch Game Show: The banana bread bake/off
One decadent loaf, one with pumpkin seeds, & a DIY dry mix: We get three home bakers to bake for @PoojaDhingra. Who wins?
Naimita Jagasia, 26, Vegan desserts, 3 years
First bake: Her grandmother’s carrot cake when she was 10. “I made cakes with veggies as we wouldn’t eat them any other way,” she says.
Banana bread debut: At 19 while living alone in London. “It did not taste good,” she confesses.
Lockdown craze: Naimita made two last year and around 5-6 in 2021, aiming to publish the recipe.
Cake for Pooja: Is vegan, so it has no refined sugar or flour. The chocolate chunks are made with Khandsari sugar. The magic ingredient: a jar of Old Monk Rum Caramel poured over it.
Joy of baking: “Vegan baking means breaking rules of traditional pastry to create something unique, which is challenging and therapeutic,” she explains.
Yajur Khanna, 25, Home baker, 6 years
First bake: When he was 12 years old in 2009, with brownies, using his mother’s recipe.
Banana bread debut: 2019. “It wasn’t spectacular,” he reminisces.
Lockdown craze: “I’ve lost count of how many banana breads I made for myself and the orders I got,” he says.
Cake for Pooja: A quick and simple recipe, made with banana flour made from scratch, with a layer of pumpkin seeds on top to give the cake a crunch and add to the texture.
Joy of baking: “Baking keeps me happy, not only because of the smells and process, which are satisfying, but also because I love eating my own desserts,” he laughs.
Maria George, 40, Cake mix expert, 5 years
First bake: A chocolate cake with icing sugar dusted over it when she was 10.
Banana bread debut: A decade ago, when she got her first oven/microwave and had leftover bananas.
Lockdown craze: She has banana cake mixes which were literally flying off the shelves during the lockdown. “Especially since it’s a mix that even a child can use to make a loaf,” Maria says.
Cake for Pooja: She sent the Plattered (her brand) whole-wheat banana cake. All you need to do is add three ripe mashed bananas and half a cup of oil to the mix; bake for 30 minutes or microwave for 3 minutes.
Joy of baking: “Baking gives me a sense of fulfilment. I think of it as art, marrying flavours and textures. There’s a science behind it, but it’s also very creative,” she says.
And the winner is… Yajur Khanna
“Banana bread should be comforting.”
“Yajur’s banana bread did justice to the recipe and the simplicity won me over,” says chef Pooja Dhingra. “I was apprehensive while cutting into Yajur’s loaf as the texture seemed one-tone, but was pleasantly surprised. It had the right flavour of banana, the sweetness was balanced and the pumpkin seeds added a nice crunch.”
“Maria’s version was wholesome and healthy. The cake itself was moist, and had a good balance of sweetness,” says Pooja. “The flipside was the bananas turned black soon.”
“Naimita’s was the fanciest one. It came with a caramel rum sauce that made it feel very decadent. This cake had several layers and textures to it but the simplicity of banana bread was lost,” says the chef, who has lost count of the number of banana breads she made last year.
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From HT Brunch, June 13, 2021
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