Wow, there was quite a bit of drama to absorb this week on Downton; I am sorry to have to spoil the fun, but there is only one episode left of Downton Abbey. It is the traditional extended Christmas Special that we have come to love over the years, but this one will be bittersweet. Mark your calendars (or keep tabs on the countdown clock at right) and bring out the good silverware, the finale is March 6, 2016. It also happens to be a couple days after my birthday, so thanks PBS for making my year. Be sure use my handy index to help plan your own fabulous finale party.
In keeping with tradition, I will continue to share one recipe from each episode as my love letter to the Downton kitchen staff and to those fans who love the food on the show. This week’s recipe is a mashup of two story lines. The Crawleys saved Mrs. Patmore’s Bed & Breakfast with Afternoon tea, so I knew we would be baking something for tea. We already have a delicious scone recipe, so I thought traditional Cornish Banana Cake would be appropriate, considering “banana” was used as a code word at the magazine. If you are looking for a more health conscious banana recipe, there is always my fabulous banana breads.
What Happened On S6 E8
A quick recap of what went on down and upstairs this past week:
- Mrs. Patmore’s new enterprise hits a major bump when her B&B is rumoured to be a “house of ill repute”. The Crawleys save the day by being seen having tea there.
- Much to everyone’s surprise (and Mary’s ire) Bertie now outranks the Crawleys after his cousin is suddenly killed and becomes the 7th Marquess of Hexham.
- After much angst about whether or how to tell Bertie about Marigold, Mary forces Edith’s hand. Will Edith ever get her happy ending?
- Edith at least has it out with her sister,”which was a long time coming” before storming off to London.
- Tom, the Match-Maker, calls for reinforcements and Violet is able to help Mary realize that she and Henry are right for each other. After a touching scene at Matthew’s gravesite, she reconciles with Henry and off they speed to the altar.
- Edith returns to Downton for Mary’s wedding and forgives Mary.
- It turns out that Thomas does have feelings and tries to take his own life. Thankfully Baxter was there to save him.
- Daisy passes her exams, Molesley will become a teacher and Andy gets professional support to help him read.
History of Bananas in the UK
So when did bananas make their way to the UK? We have never seem any character upstairs or down snacking on one. It is not exactly as if England is in a tropical climate and you don’t see many banana desserts in Edwardian cookbooks.
According to Spanish history, Friar Tomas de Berlanga brought the first banana root stocks to the Western Hemisphere in the 1500s, with a Chinese variety sent to England, where it was named “Cavendish” after the Duke of Devonshire’s family. The English are determined gardeners were able and still do cultivate bananas and pineapples, but not on a large scale. I would imagine it might have been quite a delicacy in that period.
It was Fyffe, Hudson & Co. who brought bananas to England in the 1880s on a mass scale, importing bananas from the Canary Islands on a large scale. Fyffes continues to be synonymous with bananas in the UK. London and Liverpool were the first cities in England to be introduced to the banana, aided in 1901 with the introduction of the new refrigerated ships which meant that the cargo would ripen more slowly.
So bananas appeared to be plentiful, but were people eating them? A clue:
“Although bananas are so cheap and plentiful, and can be obtained all the year-round, they are too rarely seen on the table, except in the form of dessert. This seems a great pity, as, with very little trouble, they can be converted into delicious sweets imaginable.–How to Use Bananas, Lloyds Weekly News [London], February 26, 1905 (p. 9)
Help Plan Your Finale Party Cooks Entertain: 2nd Edition
My recipe index contains 100s of recipes, but you can many of them and those not on my site in one book. Whether you are hosting 2 or 20 for the finale, this book has lots of ideas. Containing 220+ traditional Downton era recipes with a modern twist, this is a great book to create some simple or complex dishes for your Mary or Anna. Plan a cocktail party, upstairs dinner or downstairs meal to celebrate/mourn the end of Downton Abbey.
This 448 page ebook has been updated to include both metric and imperial measurements and now includes famous Downton dishes throughout the series. Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to provide you with new recipes on a regular basis.
This ebook is now available for download on my site and on Amazon: Abbey Cooks Entertain: 220 recipes inspired by Downton Abbey, Seasons 1 – 5
Print Version is here. You can buy on Amazon. The full book is 450 pages and will contain famous Downton recipes from Seasons 1-5.
Finale fundraiser: Relaxing Over Afternoon Tea
Fans might not want to stay up late on a Sunday night, so why not plan a Sunday Afternoon Tea where you can all speculate over who will have a happy ending. The book contains 60+ recipes for tea treats, the three S’s: scones, sandwiches/savouries and sweets.
The book provides a brief history of afternoon tea, tea etiquette and tips on how to host your own tea for fun or fundraising.
Delicously Moist Cornish Banana Cake
For The Cake
- 4 large ripe bananas
- 1 cup caster sugar you can make your own by pulsing sugar in blender
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 3 cups all-purpose flour unbleached
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tbsp. milk
For the Filling
- 2 large ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 2/3 cup caster sugar
For the Icing
- 2 large ripe bananas
- 1 cup dark cocoa powder sifted
- 3 cups icing sugar sifted
- 1/4 cup milk or reserved juices from frozen bananas to thin
Bake the Cake
- Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Butter two 9 inch round sandwich tins and lightly flour, tapping any excess out.
- Mash the bananas and sugar together for the cake in a bowl with an electric mixer. Beat in the softened butter. Mix the salt with the flour, then add the flour alternately with the egg. Dissolve the soda in the milk and add to the mixture. Beat to a fairly sticky batter.
- Divide evenly between the two tins, and smooth the tops. To reduce the number of air bubbles, slap/drop the pans your countertop a couple of times to help them escape. Bake for 35 to 40minutes until the sponge springs back when lightly touched.
- Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. To make a professional looking cake, use a long serrated knife to slice off the dome on each cake. Now you have a secret snack...no one has to know.
Make the Filling
- Cream the butter, then add the sugar and banana and mix until thick and creamy.
Assemble the Cake
- Use or make a 9 inch cake board and place one cake (cut side up) on the board. Use about 3/4 of the filing and cover the top of the cake. An offset spatula is your friend. Push the filling to the edges so there is more on the edges than in the middle - this will help to keep your cake level.
- Top with the other cake, cut side down. Use the rest of your filling to fill in the gaps between the layers. I also use the rest of the filling to create crumb coat to help seal the cake and provide a smooth finish. Put in your fridge to set up until firm.
Make the Icing
- Beat the banana then add the cocoa and sugar together, adding enough liquid to be dark, smooth and runny. It should be nice and runny to pour over your cake. Transfer your icing into a large measuring cup with a spout.
- Place your cooled cake on a clean cake cooling rack and place the rack on a clean cookie sheet lined with parchment to catch the excess of your icing. Pour your icing on top of the cake then move to the outside, letting the icing pour over the sides of the cake. Shake your pan to help the icing even out. You should have enough icing for a nice thick coat. You can use the run off to serve on the side as sauce for your cake. Lord D loves this.
- Carefully transfer your cake to your favorite cake plate or stand. Sprinkle walnut pieces, blanched almonds, or banana chips on top. It looks great and helps hides any flaws.