There have been some excellent animals that have transitted in and out of my life since I was three years old. Scrunch the Sydney Silky, Bill the black cat, and Angus the ginger manx. And for the last almost nine years there's been Derek Dog, a mad mini-foxy who isn't very mini at all and to my knowledge, isn't really aware that he's a dog at all.
Derek carrived at a time when I really needed a friend. He was so insane as a puppy, he was an extremely good diversion from the woes that characterised that period of my life. He ate anything - my Converse One Stars, my best black lace bra, even the stone feet on my magazine rack! In fact, he was so crazy, I'm not even sure I really liked him until he'd clocked up his second birthday.
But these days, Derek actually astounds me with his complexity of character. He is very cleary an individual with his own agenda and his own preferences. His daily antics never fail to infuriate and amuse me all at the same time. He is a beacon of light, sent to teach me the true meaning of love in its most unconditional form, which, despite his manic approach to life, I am forever grateful for.
A couple of months back I had a friend over for afternoon tea. I'd carefully sliced up four pieces of banana cake and arranged them on a bread and butter plate. I put the kettle on, picked up the plate of cake and went to the lounge room where I deposited the cake on the coffee table. My friend and I took a moment to admire one of the plants on my balcony, and when I heard the kettle click to indicate it was boiled, I turned around and found Derek swallowing his second piece of banana cake!
Stupid me! It never occurred to me that banana cake would appeal to him - bacon is more his style! But dang it, that coffee table is the perfect height for Derek to dine off, and I'm sure in his mind I wouldn't have put those pieces of cake there if they weren't specifically for him to eat!
My guest and I made do with the remaining two slices of cake, which thankfully had not come into contact with Derek's lips or tongue! But it was the last time I left any food I valued on that coffee table.
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp mixed spice
1.5 cups self raising flour
2/3 cup of milk
1 tsp bicarb soda
1. Place the butter and brown sugar in the small bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy. This will take at least five minutes - more if the butter isn't at room temperature.
2. Add vanilla essence and then the eggs, one at a time, mixing to combine all ingredients.
3. Add mashed bananas and mixed spice to mixture and lightly combine.
4. Now add the flour - sift if you like. It will make the cake lighter, but it's not absolutely compulsory.
5. Gradually add the milk and mix until all ingredients are well combined. Don't over mix!
6. Lastly, add the bicarb soda and stir well. Banana cake can be a little heavy and the bicarb soda will aerate it. But be sure to mix it well - any pockets of bicarb will discolour the cake and create a bitter lump!
7. Pour batter into a loaf tin or a 20cm round cake tin, greased and lined with baking paper. Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees celsius) for approximately 45 minutes or until the cake is cooked. Pierce a skewer through the middle of the cake to test if it's cooked. If the skewer comes out clean, it's cooked!
Note: you can ice this cake with the same cream cheese icing used for Humming Bird Cake, the recipe for which is also on this blog. Or you can ice it with caramel icing, the recipe for which I'll publish some time in the near future. You can also slice this cake up without icing, slather it in butter and eat it as a teacake!