Easy Banana and Chocolate Chip Cake

Easy Banana and Chocolate Cake (using cups, not scales!)

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Banana and Dark Chocolate Cake

I’ve been in Yangon for a week now, and feeling settled enough to start baking cakes. (Inspired by the bunch of extremely ripe bananas bought from the market yesterday morning) As I couldn’t carry all my kitchen equipment with me, I decided to make do with measuring cups. I usually use scales to weigh ingredients but all those recipes that use cups must be working, otherwise who would carry on using them?

Before I left the UK, I spent some time researching some basic recipes using few ingredients that I could play around with. I have access to a small electric oven that sits on a counter top. It’s temperature dial has faded away, so its a guess on how hot it is! I figured that most ovens go up to 250 degrees C so somewhere near the top would be fine!

Since arriving in Myanmar, I’ve been experiencing frequest power cuts. Mainly when there is a thunderstorm. The first day I arrived there was no electric from 7-11pm and it was sweltering without aircon in this tropical climate. Today it happened ten minutes after the cake went into the oven! 😱

What a disaster, the poor cake! Sitting there and waiting for the power to come was murder… Luckily it was only out for 15 minutes! The cake survived, if a little flatter than it should have been…

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Ingredients

Ingredients:
2 mashed bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1 beaten egg
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 cup melted butter/oil
Handful of chocolate chips

Method:
Mix all wet ingredients together
Mix all dry ingredients together
Mix it all up into a cake batter then bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 200 degrees C
Cool on a rack and eat!

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Banana and Chocolate Chip Cake

So it didn’t turn out too bad in the end. The next challenge is how to bake a cake in a rice cooker… These are much more common than ovens in Myanmar so I’m hoping to test out some recipes to make baking cakes accessible to more people! If you have any tried and tested recipes for rice cooker cake, please comment with the link! Cheers! 😁

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Pot-stickers, Gyoza, Mantu, Dumplings: The bite sized delights that cross cultures

Prawn Dumplings/Pot Stickers

Postickers

During my childhood, my parents were keen to ensure my siblings and I retained our culture, mother tongue and heritage. As second generation migrants living in the UK there was always a need to balance my two identities; though not without the occasional volcanic eruption!

I attended a Sunday supplementary school to learn to read and write Chinese. This took place from 1-3pm each week and was attended by hundreds of children just like me, my sister and my cousins. A regular ritual for my family was to go to China Town and at 12pm for a dim sum lunch before we then rushed over to school. In Hong Kong, dim sum is traditionally served throughout the day.From early in the morning for breakfast right through to late afternoon for late lunches. ‘Dim Sum’ (點心) translated means ‘Touch of the Heart’.  If you’ve read my ‘About’ page, you’ll know that my name is Sam (心) so you’ll see that I have a natural affinity to this delicious cuisine!

Postickers

Prawn Potstickers

Dim Sum is sometimes described as ‘Chinese Tapas’. You get lots of small dishes served in the middle of the table for all to share. The great things about Dim Sum is that the more people you have around the table, the more variety you can order. It’s a great way to have a lazy lunch with your friends, ordering as you go, washed down with plenty of jasmine tea.

Pot-sticker, Gyoza, Mantu, Dumplings etc. come in many guises. It’s an amazing food that many cultures and countries have their own versions of. Basically a disk of dough stuffed with some form of meat or vegetable filling, then folded and sealed. They can be steamed, boiled, pan-fried or deep fried. The possibilities are endless!

I regularly use shop bought dumpling pastry when I’m making them at home. They are fairly cheap and very convenient! In the early days of our relationship my partner wanted to show off the dishes from his home country (Afghanistan) and taught me how to make ‘Mantu’ and ‘Aushak’. Aushak are basically a dumpling filled with cooked leeks/scallions/spring onions, and boiled or steamed. Mantu are a meat version made with ground or minced lamb/beef. They are then served with a meaty or lentil based sauce. It seems that these Afghan dumplings were brought to the country by Mongolian horsemen when they were invading the country. Afghans have adapted the dumplings and added spices and stronger flavours to suit the Central Asian palate. A very different way of serving dumplings to the basic Chinese pot-stickers that are served plain with a light dipping sauce.

Afghan Mantu

Afghan Mantu

Dumpling making is time consuming but worth the effort. So today I have made a big batch. I’ve decided to try and make my own dumpling dough and turned to Christine again for her wise advice: Home made dumpling wrappers.

From one lot of dumpling dough I made three varieties: Prawn and shitake mushroom pot-stickers, Aushak, and Banana gyoza. This was mainly to test out the dough to see what kind of cooking methods it will stand up to.

The pot-stickers were fantastic! For the filling, I processed raw prawns/shrimp with rehydrated shitake mushrooms and added sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste. I also added some cornflour to help soak up some of the juice during the cooking process.

For the Aushak I made the filling, wrapped them, then stuck them in the freezer on a baking sheet for another time.

The banana gyoza were stuffed with mashed banana then deep fried. The pastry didn’t like the wet banana much as a couple of them burst during cooking. However, served with a coconut caramel recipe that I found, they were to die for! For one gyoza I also added a spoonful of Nutella (yum!) but found the overall taste to be too sweet and sickly. I think next time I’m going to add a little sea salt to the caramel to balance out the flavours a little.

Banana Gyoza

Banana Gyoza