Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableThis year’s UK Master Chef series on the television has been fantastic. The final five were all incredibly creative and really put through their paces as the competition ruthlessly progressed. (Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here if you haven’t watched the final episode to crown the winner.)  Of the final five, I was really inspired by Emma whose love of middle eastern spices and modern use of ingredients mirrors the zeitgeist made mainstream by Ottolenghi.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableYou may recall that Adagio Tea sent me a sample pack of their gorgeous teas to try. I wrote about their artisan teas in last month’s IMK post. They have a huge range and their green teas alone are worth a look at. Their Masala Chai is quite incredible – it has the deep flavour that I remember from my childhood and is chock full of whole spices like cloves, cinnamon bark, cardamom seeds and ginger as well as black Ceylon tea.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableSpurred on by Emma’s creations on Master Chef, a LOT of dangerously dark bananas and Adagio’s Masala Chai, I adapted my go-to recipe for Banana Bread from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. It’s a recipe I have been making for years and it never lets me down. It’s particularly devilish and delicious when made with chocolate chips instead of fruit, but that is another story!

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableBecause I had so many bananas I used them all and in retrospect, it was too much and caused the loaves to become heavy and sink in the middle when cooling. In the recipe below, I have written the amounts as they should be and not as I did this time.

I quite often use frozen bananas but let them thaw and drain off the liquid before mashing and mash the bananas coarsely as this enables the loaves to remain lovely and moist. I prefer to use light brown sugar for a deeper more caramel flavour too.  Steeping the fruit in very a very strong solution of masala chai gives them a haunting flavour when you bite into a plumped up morsel. I have enhanced that with a little cardamom stirred through the batter too.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableThe icing. Oh my God, the icing! It’s just sublime. I wanted to compliment the heady banana and masala chai flavours of the loaf and put this icing together. The flavour reminds me of coconut burfi or penda (which my father adored) – Indian sweets as Jake refers to them…

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's Table

I really like using coconut powder as you can get the depth of flavour you want and also the thickness by adjusting the liquid to powder ratio. A further rummage in the pantry led me to the gorgeously fragrant rose petals I bought recently on a foray into Shepherd’s Bush with Elaine and a bag of pistachio nuts.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableI ended up with a Magic Carpet Banana Bread! I think Emma would approve!

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing

  • Servings: Makes 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from “Banana Bread” How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

My loaf tins are standard 900g/2 lb loaf tins. Measurements may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but  they should be approximately 23cm x 13cm x 7cm  or 9″ x 5 ½” x 3″.

INGREDIENTS

  • 150 g mixed dried fruit (like berries, cherries, figs and sultanas)
  • 75 ml of very strong brewed Adagio Masala Tea Blend
  • 175 g Plain/AP flour
  • 2 ½  tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder or 2 drops of cardamom essence
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 150 g light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Coconut, Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing

  • 3 Tbsp coconut powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp warm milk
  • 1 x 180 g pack of cream cheese
  • 1 x 250 g tub of mascarpone cheese
  • 5 – 6 Tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 drops cardamom essence or the powdered seeds of 2 cardamom pods
  • chopped pistachios (optional)
  • edible dried rose petals (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Steep the dried fruit with the hot masala chai for an hour (or microwave on high for 2 minutes and steep for as long as you can)
  2. Pre-heat oven to 170C/325F and either pop a paper case into each of two loaf tins or line with two strips of parchment paper. Put the butter in a heat proof bowl and place in the oven to melt. Check after 3-4 minutes.
  3. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. Mash the bananas, coarsely, and set aside.
  5. With an electric mixer, beat together the cooled melted butter and the sugar until creamy and caramel in colour.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time and make sure to beat well after each one.
  7. Add the bananas and the vanilla extract and mix well and finally, stir in the drained fruit.
  8. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer which should come out moist but not with batter clinging to it. Let cool completely before icing.
  9. While the loaves are baking, make the icing: stir the coconut powder into warm milk until smooth.
  10. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the mascarpone with a rubber spatula then add the coconut mixture and stir in. Sift in the icing sugar, mixing well and taste after you had added 4 Tbsp – it may be sweet enough. Stir in the cardamom essence or the powder and set aside in the fridge. When the loaves are cold, spread with the icing and top with the chopped pistachios and rose petals if using them.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

In My Kitchen – April 2015

In My Kitchen - April 2015 | Selma's TableIn my kitchen, Spring has truly sprung!

Earlier in the month I had a bunch of white tulips and purple hyacinths. Now there is a large bunch of those pretty cream coloured daffodils on the windowsill. If you would like to know more about the rather beautiful handblown glass bowl next to the vase, take a look at my second IMK post for the details.

In My Kitchen - April 2015 | Selma's Table

In my kitchen I have a wonderful new cookbook and some utterly delicious produce. I was thrilled  to receive an invitation to Theo Randall’s launch party for his latest book, My Simple Italian. It was held in his elegant restaurant Theo Randall at the Intercontinental off Park Lane, heaving with friendly, creative, foodie people – well, the ones I met were! As we chattered, the most delicious canapés were being served by his charming and knowledgeable staff who also refilled our glasses with what seemed to be a never ending supply of bubbles. The recipes for the canapés are all to found within the covers of Theo Randall’s book and they all depend on one thing – really good, tasty ingredients. He along with many Michelin starred chefs, get their produce from a company called Natoora, who, luckily for those of us without the expense account, also sell to consumers via their website and Ocado. They carry unusual ingredients like Monk’s Beard, Marinda Tomatoes, Calcott Onions, Speckled Wild Baby Radicchio, Wild Garlic Leaves as well as fish, meat and cheese – their website is well worth a browse. I came home with a Theo Randal jute shopping bag, stuffed full of lemons, blood oranges and a selection of the most savoury tomatoes I have ever eaten. There was also a bag of chocolate truffles and a signed copy of his excellent new book, My Simple Italian.

The recipes are simple yet full of flavour with a wealth of tips gleaned from his travels and years at River Cafe. The photography is stunning – showcasing his gorgeous food in a very simple way.  I cannot wait to get started – I have earmarked lots of pages and I have a pheasant in the freezer that is now destined to be cooked in milk and celeriac as per Mr Randall’s instructions! (Just a reminder – if you click on the first photo, you can see the enlarged version of the picture in the each of the galleries.)

In my kitchen I have some delicious packets of artisan tea from Adagio Tea and their ingenious IngenuiTea tea brewer. The teas are just gorgeous – full of flavour and really unusual too. If you are a tea drinker, I highly recommend a look around their website – from large range of unusual green teas to a vaiiety of rooibos; herbal teas to flavoured ones –  there is such a fabulous and interesting selection. I really like the Blood Orange tea – it’s incredibly fragrant and quite tart – I think it would be wonderful as a cold drink in the hotter weather.

The IngenuiTea brewer is fabulous – after steeping the tea, you place it on top of your cup which releases the valve and the brewed tea pours straight into the cup. I have some recipes which I am going to try out using their blends.

In My Kitchen - April 2015 | Selma's TableIn my kitchen I have a bowl full of gorgeous unwaxed organic lemons from Chegworth Valley Farm Shop in Borough Market. Unwaxed lemons are essential for zesting but don’t keep as long as their waxed ones.

In my kitchen I have a funky tea towel sent by a friend in New Zealand. I feel like I should rename the blog!!

In My Kitchen - April 2015 | Selma's TableHer sister, who lives in London, also brought me back some wonderful Kiwi Manuka honey – it’s so good spread on my home made sourdough bread!

In My Kitchen - April 2015 | Selma's TableIn my kitchen I have mini spatulas and a pretty new jug. I realised the other day, as I was trying to scrape the last of the peanut butter out of the jar that I really, really needed a mini rubber spatula. I popped into TK Maxx and there was a happy little bunch of them waiting for me to take them home! The jug comes from a fabulous new shop on Queenstown Road called Les Sardines –  I couldn’t resist it. It looks wonderful filled with flowers!

In My Kitchen - April 2015 | Selma's TableIn my kitchen I have a new peeler with a ceramic blade. I find these so smooth and efficient – I had my last one for about 8 years so was a little bereft when it snapped. Being ceramic, they are not as robust as metal but with a little care and thought, they last a very long time. I was so pleased to find another one even though it’s a bit wider than I am used to – it does, however, still do a marvellous job.

In My Kitchen - April 2015 | Selma's TableIn my kitchen I have a tub of Dodoni feta cheese. While I was in Cape Town, I observed how feta is sold in large pots rather than the little vacuum packed slabs we are more used to. When I popped into the Mediterranean grocery store around the corner from me, I saw that they sell slices of feta in tubs. It keeps really well in the brine rather than going off in the packet when you have used a bit for a recipe. I used the feta on my Chermoula Spiced Aubergine Wedges and also in my pull apart rolls, below.

In My Kitchen - April 2015 | Selma's TableIn my kitchen I went sourdough crazy and baked up a fruit loaf, a red pesto, feta cheese and olive pull apart rolls and a green pesto and tomato pull apart rolls. It’s the basic overnight dough divided into 2 equal portions, stretched out, filled, rolled up and sliced and baked. Being sourdough, they are chewy rather than soft and fluffy and so full of flavour! Just wonderful with bowl of steaming hot soup.

In My Kitchen - April 2015 | Selma's TableIn my kitchen I had sourdough hot cross buns – inspired and instructed by tweets from Celia! My crosses are very wonky and I also need to work on shaping buns but they were very tasty indeed. I am working on a chocolate chip and espresso version now…

Well, that is it from my kitchen – what’s been going on in yours?

Huge thanks, as ever to the generous Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to her blog name so click and take a little tour!