Banana and Nutella Extravaganza

I thought I would kick-start this blog with a recipe post; a banana and Nutella celebration cake I knocked together for my brother's birthday recently.

I know what you're all thinking - how calorific?!
Admittedly, this cake isn't the equivalent of a salad but remember that when it comes to cake, calories don't count (or at least this is what I tell myself)! Enjoyed as an occasional treat, this recipe combines  number of my favourite ingredients: banana, hazelnuts and of course the infamous Nutella.

 A light yet moist sponge layered between lashings of rich ganache, and slathered in the most delectable choco-hazelnut buttercream. So good that it was a real struggle to refrain from eating it straight from the bowl.
Feel free to decorate as you wish but the shards of hazelnut brittle, combined with a scattering of Bueno chunks and foam bananas, makes the cake a real showstopper.

Ever so decadent but ever so delicious. Certain to please any crowd.


For the cake:
3 ripe bananas
115g butter, preferably unsalted
225g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 and a 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
195g plain flour (sifted)
150g plain Greek yoghurt
1 and a 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the chocolate ganache:
200g good quality dark chocolate (chopped)
22oml double cream

For the buttercream:
3 egg whites
340g butter (at room temperature and cut into small cubes)
200g granulated sugar
75g Nutella (or more if you're obsessed)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the brittle:
100g caster sugar
100g hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line three 20cm round cake tins with greaseproof paper (if you only have 2 tins, cook 2 sponges then reuse 1 tin for the third).
Cream together the butter and sugar, ideally in an electric mixer, but a good old-fashioned wooden spoon is just as effective with a bit of elbow grease. Meanwhile, mash the bananas well.
When the mixture is light and fluffy gradually add in the beaten eggs and vanilla extract, mixing on a low speed.
Add a third of the flour and the raising agents to the wet mixture. Beat to combine, then add the rest of the flour slowly until fully dispersed.
Stir through the yoghurt and mashed bananas thoroughly.
Pour a third of the mixture into each tin and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden in colour and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.
Once you've sorted out the sponge, move onto the ganache. Heat the cream gently in a pan until it begins to lightly simmer. At this point, add the chocolate and stir until melted. Once smooth, leave the mixture to cool and it will thicken until spreadable.

 Now for the buttercream. Put the egg whites and sugar into a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of gently simmering water. Heat the ingredients, whisking regularly until palpably hot and the sugar has melted (you can check this by rubbing a small amount between your fingers - it should feel smooth with no grains).
 Then place the bowl back on the mixer and using the whisk attachment, whisk on a high speed until the mixture is brought back to room temperature.
Replace the paddle attachment and gradually add small amounts of butter, beating until combined. It might look like the mixture has separated at one point but I urge you to persevere as it will eventually come together into a smooth creamy buttercream.
Now add the vanilla extract and Nutella, mixing until completely combined and the desired consistency.
For the brittle, place the sugar in a saucepan over a low heat. Allow it to melt slowly, lightly shaking the pan and swirling. Bear with it and it'll eventually turn a deep caramel colour.
At this stage, add the hazelnuts, ensure they're covered in the sticky liquid and then pour onto a lined baking tray.

 To assemble the cake, spread a layer of the cooled, creamy ganache over two of the layers of sponge. Top this with a thick layer of buttercream. Then sandwich the sponges together, ensuring that the top layer is the cake without the ganache on top. Now, smother the entirety of the cake in the buttercream (the more the better in my opinion).

All that's left is the best bit - the decorating (omitting the eating, of course)! Take your anger out whilst breaking the hazelnut brittle into large shards and push these gently into the icing in a somewhat artistic manner. Also garnish with pieces of Bueno, banana sweets, crushed hazelnuts and anything else which tickles your fancy. Just don't hold back; the more the merrier after all.

I hope you enjoy devouring the decadent, chocolaty deliciousness of this cake. Indulgence at its best.


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