How can a banana cake recipe be brave? Well, the baker has to be brave … when she declares that you don’t need weighing scales to make it.
… say what? Yup, you heard right. You can make this moist, tender, amazingly delicious banana cake using just measuring cups and eyeballing.
Now, I’ve been told over and over again that I MUST USE WEIGHING SCALES to bake properly. Because so many people have said it to me, I never questioned its veracity until one fine day, when I stumbled upon some baking recipes that used measuring cups.
Measuring cups? Isn’t that shockingly … imprecise?
Intrigued, I started experimenting, first with brownies, then kuih bingka, and then apple crumble cakes, sans weighing machine. To my surprise, they turned out edible, and with a few more attempts, they actually turned out really good. I arrived at this conclusion:
Weighing scales aren’t imperative in baking, as long as you understand 2 important principles.
1) Know the COOKING RATIO of your dish.
Most, if not all, recipes are governed by a cooking ratio. What’s that? It’s basically the proportion of ingredients in relation to each other. Cooking ratios underlie every dish, not just baked goods. To make porridge, for example, you will need 12 cups of water to every cup of rice or a water:rice ratio of 12:1.
Likewise for baked goods, each type of cake had a specific sugar to flour ratio and fat to flour ratio. I studied dozens of brownie recipes and noticed that for fudgy brownies, you always need 2 parts sugar for every 1 part flour (or sugar: flour ratio of 2:1). For more “cakey” types of baked goods such as cakes, it’s the reverse – 1 part sugar to 2 parts flour. Following this 1:2 sugar-to-flour ratio, I was able to make my banana cake recipe successfully, using only measuring cups.
2) Know the ideal POURING CONSISTENCY of your batter before you pop it into the oven.
Admittedly, judging this correctly does take a bit of practice. I started by watching LOTS of Youtube videos and pausing the clip at the part where the chef starts pouring the batter into the baking pan. From a batter’s pouring consistency, you can tell whether you’ve added too much flour (the batter will be too thick and hard to pour) or you’ve added too much liquids (it will be very runny). It’s really not that difficult to eyeball it. I was intimidated at first but after a while, I got the hang of it – and you will too.
Having said that, here comes the caveat …
This eyeballing method is more suitable for rustic types of cakes.
By “rustic”, I mean cakes where the ingredients themselves are slightly variable in their weight, size, quantity. In the case of banana cakes, you can’t ensure everyone has the same-size bananas. Same goes for cakes that call for coconut milk, because first santan squeezed from a fresh coconut is thinner than, say, Kara coconut cream. There will always be a degree of variation.
So are you feeling brave? If you are, go forth and try this recipe for one of the easiest and most delicious banana cakes you’ll ever make:)
My Brave Banana Cake
- One 2 x 8 in loaf tin, parchment paper, mixing bowl, small pot
- 3 medium-sized bananas
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 50 g butter
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
- A handful chocolate chunks or chips
- Melt butter and pour over brown sugar. Beat until sugar is melted, and let cool a bit.
- In a mixing bowl, mash bananas. Mix in butter-sugar mixture, extra virgin olive oil and egg.
- Fold in flour, salt and baking powder. Do not overbeat. Finally, add chopped walnuts and a handful of chocolate chunks.
- Pour batter into a loaf tin lined with parchment paper. Bake at 175 C oven for 45 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.