Sunday, November 24, 2013

Elvis's banana pound cake


Photo by Steve Shanahan
First published Canberra Times September 18 2013.

With nothing better to do than focus on the eating habits of the rich and famous, I find that there really are some weird culinary appetites out there. I wonder if being rich and famous causes this or is it an pre-existing enzyme in the brain that sets them on this path to culinary oddity? 

I am curious about Elvis Presleys food habits; the widely known peanut butter and jelly sandwich binges and flying cross country to gorge on pre-ordered burgers. In researching this culinary curiosity, I was further surprised to stumble upon his obsession for pound cake. Its said that he single-handedly consumed a whole loaf each time it was made for him by a childhood friend. This friendship persisted and she developed the recipe especially for Elvis, delivering the cooked cakes to him at Gracelands. She beefed up his version of the basic pound cake with extra cream, creating a smooth crumbed but heavier texture, to satisfy his food cravings that could strike at any time.

I decide to doctor Elvis cake and create my version, adding bananas, ground cinnamon and ginger to the Elvis mixture and halved the cream. This makes a delicately flavoured banana pound loaf, moist and fudgy with a hint of spice. The quantity makes two loaves and one always ends up in the freezer for later. I like this old style cake in its unadorned state, pristine and warm from the oven, with maybe just a little butter. Alternatively, top with a sweet cream cheese and walnut icing.

Makes two loaves.
Preheat the oven to 175C.

220g unsalted butter, softened
3 cups plain flour, sifted
2 ½ cups brown sugar
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla paste
½ tsp salt
½ cup cream and ½ cup milk, combined
3 bananas, mashed
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp orange zest

Grease two, twenty-three centimetre loaf pans and set aside.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.

Add eggs one at the time, beating each one in well.

Add the flour and the cream and milk mixture, alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.

Add the spices and salt and beat until combined for about three minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the mashed banana and orange zest.


Divide the cake batter between the two greased loaf tins and bake for thirty-five to forty minutes. Remove from the oven and leave for about fifteen minutes before removing from the tins.