Banana, Pecan & Cacao Loaf Cake

I thought for a while about how to decorate this cake – I considered smothering it in chocolate icing; perhaps sprinkling cacao nibs or crushed pecans on top. I decided against it, though. I wanted something simple – something I could pop into a bag and take to work, but that would still feel like a treat. And it fulfills the brief – it’s rich and dark and unassuming: not overly sweet, and slightly wholesome. There’s a beautiful hint of crunch from the top, that contrasts with the moist, soft crumb of the centre. I love the variety of textures from the pecans, cacao nibs and chocolate, too, that give bites of crunch, bitterness and sweetness. It’s a cake to be enjoyed at any time – after lunch; as a mid-afternoon treat; as a grab-and-go breakfast as you run out the door – whenever you feel like it.

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Ingredients:
– 100g butter, softened
– 125g soft brown sugar
– 2 eggs
– 2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
– 125g self-raising flour
– 30g cacao powder
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 50g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
– 20g cacao nibs
– 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
– 3-4 tbsp almond milk (or regular milk, if you prefer)
You will also need a 1lb loaf tin

1. Begin by pre-heating your oven to 180°C, and greasing and lining your loaf tin. Beat together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the mashed banana. Gently fold in the flour, cacao powder and baking powder until no white streaks remain, then stir in the chopped pecans, cacao nibs and chocolate. Stir in enough almond milk to loosen the mixture, then pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin.
3. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a sharp knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin before turning out.
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