banana cake

Sweet Talk: Seraphic Sauternes and Musaceous Cakes

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ften I find myself dreaming of that elusive, paradisaical match between liquid and edibles. You know what? I think I found it on Sunday. For the very right reasons of wine and food harmony, it was indeed a holy day.

Being in a baking mood, excited about having some special people over for dinner, and (I’m embarrassed to admit) holding quickly deteriorating bananas in the fruit bowl, I resolved to whip up what I like to think of as a dessert banana cake.

It’s a simple recipe, but the components are so right that the result is an utterly delicious, moist, musaceous cake. The secret addition is very good-quality yoghurt. The incorporation of yoghurt does wonders for the texture of banana cake, it enables this baked treat to retain moisture and gives the perfect consistency for a dessert base. And of course, you can always ice it with a lemon cream cheese icing.

Back to Sunday – a great day to be outdoors, I ventured down to the Marlborough Farmer’s Market in the morning. It’s a delightful Blenheim Sunday attraction pulling together about 40 different vendors, with produce ranging from clams and seafood, meat, wine, cheese, fruit and vegetables, often live music and an enlivening buzz. Catching my eye was the Saffron stand, purveyed by local producer Gourmet Gold and intrigued, I purchased some of the mysterious bright orange stamens on display. With a certain amount of celerity I could not resist also seizing a jar of Saffron & Lemon Curd. This was to turn my subsequent simple cake experience, matched with a fantastic Sauternes into transcendental bliss.

The elements, quite intelligibly are this banana cake, a recipe I revel in frequently which has taken many turns to perfect, Gourmet Gold’s Saffron & Lemon Curd, something I wish to try making myself now that I have the key component, vanilla bean icecream, and a bottle of Château Rieussec 1st Cru Classé 2007.

As I’ve said before, a good rule to obey is ensuring the dessert wine is  sweeter than the dessert itself. In this event the saffron lemon curd added a delicate warm spice and acidity, along with the semi-sweet banana cake, and the Sauternes riotously ambrosial did not upstage the dessert, but as it should, galvanized this dish into an unforgettable experience.

Appreciating this Sauternes, you cannot go past the seraphic crème brulee aroma, there’s dried figs, delicate honey-suckle florals and delights of stonefruit. This wine has superb length, it’s unctuous and full-bodied, drawing out and wildly accentuating the fruit components in this dessert. It’s a combination that will make your inamorata or inamorato weak at the knees…

RECIPE: Dessert Banana Cake


  • Melted butter or margarine, for greasing
  • 150g butter or margarine
  • 1.75c caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 300g good quality plain yoghurt
  • 200g (1 3/4 cups) plain flour
  • 2.25 tsp baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 22cm spring-form pan with the melted butter or margarine and then line the base with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Beat butter or margarine and sugar in a bowl with electric beater until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at time beating well after each addition. Fold in the mashed bananas and yoghurt with a large metal spoon. Sift together the flour and baking powder and then fold gently into the yoghurt mixture until just combined.
  3. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven.
  4. If desired, ice with cream cheese icing, or serve warm with vanilla bean icecream, Saffron & Lemon curd, and a great Sauternes.