Grey January days, the kind when the rain’s making a racket on the windows and the sky has been bleached of its blue, are the days that demand cake. Something simple yet vibrant, something reminiscent of the colours and tastes of the last couple of weeks – and here she is. This sweet, syrupy loaf cake is a riot of orange and pink, with a satisfying pop of sharpness thanks to the generous smattering of pomegranate seeds. Sliced thick and served with a pot of tea, it’s the perfect start to the year.
If Nigella is the Queen B of baking, then Nigel Slater is most definitely my king. Not only are his recipes a dream to follow and delicious to eat, it’s the way he writes them, gently coaxing you to the kitchen full of excitement at what you are about to create. His books are beautiful and tend to live on my bedside table, never quite making it to the book shelf, that’s how often I dip into them for inspiration. This week I was determined to face a fruity foe and turned to Nigel for back up. Bananas have been the bane of my baking life for as long as I can remember, fundamentally it’s a texture thing I think, mushy and stringy don’t really do it for me, and I’ve failed to find one recipe to change my mind – until now. Banana-phobes prepare to be converted, this cake has superpowers of persuasion.
Sometimes only chocolate cake will do and when the chocolate mist descends this is the recipe I reach for time and again. Why? Because I don’t think chocolate cake should be difficult, or fussy (this recipe is neither) and I don’t know about you, but for me there’s something deliciously informal about a loaf cake. You don’t serve delicate slices of loaf cake, you serve slabs, and this bad boy in particular, in all it’s moist, dense loveliness, demands greediness. Resistance is futile.