Have your cake and eat it (+recipe)

Little and Friday cafe's Kim Evans has generously shared her recipes in a gorgeous new cookbook

Banana cakes from Treats from Little & Friday by Kim Evans. Photo / Supplied
Banana cakes from Treats from Little & Friday by Kim Evans. Photo / Supplied

Once the centre of every small town main street, real home cookeries are becoming rare beasts, replaced by coffee or muffin chains lacking a soul, or hipster cafes. Instead of chelsea buns or Sally Lunns, cream buns or real doughnuts, and cakes and slices and pies that are made from scratch each day from old family recipes, we get insta-food donuts, tasteless mega-muffins or abominable cupcakes made from interchangeable mixes. Luckily home baker Kim Evans has held out for the real food of our childhood.

A lifetime of baking and selling her goodies to fund first her art school days, then later to support her family, means Kim is an intuitive baker. Her recipes are worked up from family favourites and ideas from her crew (now numbering about 25). Her first shop - originally a commercial kitchen in little known part of Hauraki intended only to supply her market stall - was tiny and open only on Fridays. Within months her venture was neither little, nor open for just one day: Little and Friday became a delightfully hand-me-down decorated cafe and, last year, opened a branch in Newmarket.

Punters queue for the cheese straws, Sunday bacon and egg pies and meal-sized cream doughnuts - up to 400 fly out the door on a busy Saturday. Her cookbook is generous to a fault - all the favourites are there, there are kitchen tips aplenty and notes for relishes, pestos and more. Create your own treats to share with neighbours, or head to Kim's neighbourhood to fall in love with the originals.

Little and Friday's version of mini-banana cakes sure beats the over-embellished cupcake.

Banana Cakes
This is our interpretation of the Edmonds Cookbook Banana Cake. We make it as a double-layer cake sandwiched together with gooey caramel and mascarpone.

Makes 12 small cakes or one 23cm double-layer cake

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
3 cups mashed banana
1 tsp baking soda
4 Tbs hot milk
1 cup walnuts

To assemble:

1/2 cup caramel
1/4 cup mascarpone

1 Preheat oven to 160C. Grease two 6-hole Texas muffin trays or two 23cm cake tins and line the bottom and sides with baking paper cut to fit exactly.

2 Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.

3 Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on a low speed until light and creamy.

4 Slowly add sugar and continue to beat on low speed until light in colour and fluffy.

5 Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and making sure to incorporate each egg before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. With the mixer on low speed add the banana.

6 Dissolve baking soda in hot milk.

7 Fold flour mixture and milk into the banana mixture in three equal measures. Lastly, fold in walnuts.

8 Divide mixture evenly between prepared cake tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes for small cakes or 45 minutes for large cakes, or until the tops spring back when touched lightly and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

9 Let cakes cool completely in tins before turning out.

10 If making small cakes, carefully cut them in half horizontally. To assemble the cakes, spread caramel over bottom layer, then spread a thin layer of mascarpone over the top. Place second cake layer on top. Spread with a thick layer of cream cheese icing. Drizzle with extra caramel and decorate with walnuts or banana chips.

Kitchen notes:

Place in an airtight container and store in a cool place (not the refrigerator) for up to three days. The banana flavour gets better with age at room temperature.

Caramel
Makes 3 cups

2 cups caster sugar
600ml cream

1 Place sugar in a small saucepan and just cover with water to achieve a wet sand consistency.

2 Bring to the boil but do not stir. Using a wet pastry brush, clean down sides of saucepan to remove any stray sugar crystals.

3 Continue to boil until the sugar turns amber. At this point, quickly remove from heat.

4 In a small saucepan, heat cream to boiling point. Gradually add this to caramelised sugar, stirring constantly to achieve a smooth consistency. This may take a while but it will eventually combine.

Kitchen notes:

Timing is paramount with caramel. Both the cream and the sugar need to be really hot when they are combined.

Cream Cheese Icing
Makes 3 1/2 cups

125g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
500g cream cheese, cubed
1 cup icing sugar, sifted

1 Thoroughly cream butter in an electric mixer on high speed, continuously scraping down sides of bowl.

2 Soften cream cheese by squeezing through your fingers and add to butter. Continue beating on high until there are no lumps, scraping down sides of bowl frequently.

3 Turn mixer to slow speed and add sifted icing sugar. When icing sugar is fully integrated, turn up speed and beat until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

* Reproduced with permission from Treats from Little and Friday by Kim Evans, $44.99. Published by Penguin Group NZ. Copyright Kim Evans, 2012. Photography by Rene Vaile.

- NZ Herald

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