Half and Half Banana Cake
The chef trainer has been waiting for me impatiently outside my office with some students in tow. In his anger he looks like Chef Skinner from the movie Ratatouille, his eyes flying in every-which-way in agitation. After a while, he looks more like Rumpelstiltskin, stomping his feet in frustration.
Without even knowing the reason for their strife, I begin to feel sorry for the students Chef has hauled up – simply because I empathise with them. It is indeed very difficult to keep a straight face - however culpable you are, whatever the gravity of your offence and however calamitous the consequences – when you see Chef’s eyes rolling in this way, one clockwise and the other quite the opposite.
I look at the defendants again, are they hanging their heads in shame and remorse, or to suppress their rascally grins?
It’s time to rush to their rescue. I adjourn my meeting and call them in. They all troop into the room, standing respectfully around my desk, heads still bowed. Chef starts describing the matter, and I flinch at his high pitch and heavily accented voice – he should have started on a lower note, I think. How is his voice going to sound in crescendo when his story reaches a climax?
I am listening to him with full attention, but hear only nails on chalkboard.
And I avoid the boys’ eyes – I must remember it’s hard to get out of a giggling fit.
It transpires that these students have been caught stealing bananas from the training kitchen.
Awww… I feel so sorry for the boys, studying in a foreign country, away from home for the first time in their young lives, missing their desi and rustic home cooked food, while learning to cook alien foods they haven’t ever seen, tasted nor developed a palate for.
“That’s very bad”, I say, forging as much severity as I can… “Please don’t do this again.”
“But - they ate up all four bananas and ruined my requisition for the practical class, now I have to postpone the session and put in another requisition…”
“That’s OK, chef, they won’t do it again.” I try to placate him…
“ Stealing is against our code of conduct” Another high pitched wail. I don’t need to be reminded – I wrote the code of conduct and rules, chef.
“Yes, so this is your first verbal warning. The next time will be your first written warning!”
Do I really subscribe to such pedantries?
“But do you know bananas are $12 a kilo after Cyclone Larry!” He persists in his persecution…
Any remaining disapproval dissipates, as I tell the boys to leave, not without an attempt at warning.
Then turning to tackle the tyrant, I tell him about how these young people are homesick, how although they are training to be cooks, they have never made a cup of tea for themselves in their lives before coming to Australia, how most of them can’t even afford to eat two square meals as it is so hard to find jobs in this foreign country – and no, they don’t want to ask their parents for more money than they have already raised to send them overseas.
So what if they ate some bananas? They must have been tempted to steal them, as they couldn’t afford to buy what was probably the cheapest fruit in their country. Do we scold out kids so severely for helping themselves to goodies? As their quasi family we have an ethical and legal responsibility and pastoral duty…and from a customer service view, a few bananas is a small price to pay for goodwill…
Chef beats a hasty retreat, thinking I have gone bananas!
Did I tell you this ? I am a person, who by training and disposition, will never trash a single banana-gone-black, putting it away in the freezer till enough are collected to make something as tasty as this cake.
Half and Half Banana Cake
1cup plain flour (maida)
1cup whole-wheat flour (atta)
1tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp salt
¾ cup oil
1 ½ cups sugar/sweetener
1 cup mashed bananas, very ripe – the blacker, the better!
¾ cup buttermilk (not too sour) + 1 tsp baking soda
Preheat the oven to 180 C .
Grease and flour a bundt cake pan and set aside.
Combine flours, the baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl. Mix and set aside.
Combine the buttermilk and the baking soda. Mix and set aside.
Beat together the sugar and oil until light. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the mashed bananas and mix well.
Add half the flour mixture. Then add half the buttermilk mixture and stir well. Then add the rest of the milk mixture and stir until the milk is fully incorporated into the batter. Add the rest of the flour mixture and stir well.
Once the flour is mixed into the batter completely, pour it all into the prepared bundt pan. Spread out evenly.
Bake in pre-heated oven for about 40 - 45 minutes. If your oven has uneven heat areas, turn the pan once half way through. Test with a skewer or if the cake springs back to touch, then it is done.
Cool for about 10 -15 minutes before cutting.