Monday, January 16, 2012

The Great British Bake Off: how does Sharon measure up?

Some of you will already know that I have a stall at Dingle Farmers' Market where I sell cupcakes and other baked sweet treats. You'll know that I bake regularly and enjoy it. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm a baker. I've never taken a single class in baking (apart from the classes in home economics we had at school, where I am embarrassed to say that I never showed much promise - sorry teach!). Everything I know about baking, I've learned from books and from simple trial and (lots of) error.

This means that I empathise with the contestants on The Great British Bake Off (for those of you who haven't seen the show, it's a baking competition that sees baking experts Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry set tasks for enthusiastic baking amateurs such as me). I particularly empathised with the celebrities who took part in last week's Sports Relief Bake Off. I was once like them, an absolute novice who knew little or nothing about baking - except that I liked eating the end result!

I do think I've improved since then and one of last week's challenges presented me with the perfect chance to see how I measured up. The second programme saw each of the four contestants fail quite spectacularly in their attempts to make
Mary Berry's banana and chocolate chip loaf cake

Despite their dismal efforts, I didn't think it looked too difficult. I also thought it sounded delicious. So, I decided to try it for myself.

Here's my result:

A simply scrumptious cake that is perfect for weekend baking - moist as a result of the mashed banana and with the ideal amount of chocolate, enough to give you your chocolate hit without being too decadent for a January afternoon. 

And - I don't know what went wrong with those bakers on the Bake Off - it couldn't be easier to make.

I made double the amount in Mary's recipe as my loaf tin is twice as large as the one she uses. This meant that I had to adjust the cooking time but it also meant that I had enough cake to last two people (and several visitors) for the entire weekend - which is surely what a weekend cake is supposed to do.


2 ripe bananas (peeled weight 200g/8oz)
2 tablespoons milk
100g/4oz soft butter
150g/6oz plain flour
150g/6oz caster sugar 
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
100g dark chocolate chips (I bought a bar of chocolate and cut it into chunks)

To decorate:

40g dark chocolate chips

1 loaf tin measuring 28.5cm by 13cm by 6cm.

  • Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.
  • Grease and line your loaf tin with baking parchment.
  • Mash the peeled bananas with a fork and add to the milk, butter, flour, sugar, soda, baking powder and eggs.
  • Beat the ingredients with an electric hand-held whisk until they have combined and are smooth.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips and spoon the mixture into the loaf tin.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the cake is well risen, has begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin and has turned a golden-brown colour.
  • Set aside to cool for ten minutes then remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  • To decorate, melt the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  • Mary recommends spooning the chocolate into a piping  bag and piping zig-zags across the top of the loaf. This is a little too prim for my style so I decided to drizzle it haphazardly instead. 
  • Now, all you have to do is slice and serve.

This is a cake I would urge everyone to try. It's sweet but not too indulgent, making it perfect for a cold January afternoon. Go on. Have a slice!

I think Mary Berry would be proud of my cake. What do you reckon?


  1. Looks delicious! Love the photos too!

  2. Thanks, Margaret. I'm trying to improve. And the cake is certainly delicious.

  3. Sharon - great to see this post come through Facebook and even better to hear what you are up to these days - still writing as well I see.

    This looks great BUT I'm about to start a diet so will have to come back in a couple of months to see what you are up to.
    All the best,

  4. Alana, I post recipes other than cake recipes too! I'll have to post something more suited to your January diet soon.

  5. I have to say I really enjoyed the Sports Relief Bake Off, last week as well and had similar thoughts regarding the Banana & Chocolate loaf, I often make plain banana loaf but the chocolate would make it more indulgent.
    Yours turned out fabulous, if I could just reach into the computer now and help myself to a slice...........
    Nicola :)

  6. Nicola, I often feel like that when I'm reading people's blogs! I'd recommend you try this banana loaf, particularly if you make your own regularly. It really couldn't be simpler and it tastes great.

  7. Funny, I made some chocolate banana bread (as we call it back in the States) just last week. I didn't drizzle chocolate on mine, though--have to do that next time as it looks delectable from your great pix. Vanilla extract, cinnamon and allspice are great additions to banana bread, too.

  8. I love your suggestions, Bill. I'm definitely going to experiment with some spicy flavourings next time!

  9. Nice! I have a very reliable banana loaf recipe that I use al the time, but a bit of chocolate like in yours would liven it up for the poor, long suffering childers. Mary Berry rocks for an auld wan!

  10. She certainly does, Amee. Her recipes are so easy to follow and have so far been so simple yet delicious. Good going for an auld wan, eh?