Banana cake splashed with passionfruit syrup

One of the first dishes I made successfully when I left home was a banana cake. I had no idea what I was doing, but those were the days when you tossed everything into the whizzer, pressed the button, and presto, there was the batter for a cake.

Nothing had come near to that cake over the years (from Tess Mallos’ Summit All Colour Cookbook), but I’d been fiddling here and there with possible challengers, and finally, I managed a cake which has all the moistness of a brilliant cake and all the flavour of fresh bananas. The late addition of passionfruit came from the old restaurant days, when we used to put passionfruit syrup at the bottom of souffle bowls. Passionfruit and banana are such perfect partners, the syrup seemed like a natural for this dish. It was.

4 eggs at room temperature

125 g caster sugar

⅔ cup buttermilk — If you can’t get buttermilk, whisk together some milk and yoghurt.

zest of 1 lemon

3 egg whites

2 cups plain flour, double-sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder, mixed into the flour

150g butter, melted gently and allowed to cool

2 bananas, sliced finely, tossed in a little flour

6 passionfruit, seeded, 2 kept aside for the batter

2 teaspoons caster sugar for the passionfruit


You really do need a powerful mixer to ensure this dish’s final lightness. Whisk the eggs and sugar with the whisk attachment until the mixture is very fluffy, and three or four times its starting volume. You cannot overbeat it.


With the beaters a little slower, allow the buttermilk to drip into the fluffy egg until well blended. Add the zest.


While the eggs are beating, whisk the egg whites until they have mounted and formed firm peaks.


Still whisking furiously with the machine, add the flour bit by bit, again making sure you maintain the lightness. Add the 2 passionfruit.


Remove a few ladles of batter into a separate bowl and whisk in the melted butter, slowly but surely. Then whisk the resulting butter-batter mixture into the main bowl, again slowly but surely. You’re almost there.


Fold the egg whites through the mixture, half first, then the rest, keeping it as light as you possibly can.


Fold through the bananas and pour the mixture (it will be pourable and rather light) into a well-greased cake tin. Bake in a 200°C oven for 55-60 minutes.


While the cake is baking, cook the pulp and juice from the 4 remaining passionfruit for a couple of minutes (in the microwave or on top of the stove), making sure it does not cook too fast. Scrape the seeds, pulp and juice on a fine sieve over a bowl, retaining only the juice. This can be quite tedious, but is well worth the effort. Add the 2 teaspoons of sugar, and cook on a high heat, stirring, for about a minute. Set aside.


Test the cake, and when done, unmould.


While the cake is still hot, paint the bottom with the passionfruit syrup, allowing it to seep through. Served warm is ideal, but it’s pretty good in the lunch box.