This banana pudding reminds me of the first dessert I baked when I moved to the UK for the first time. Obsessed with all things British and living out my Anglophilic dream (except that I was in Scotland… no matter) I threw myself into the culture around me. On the culinary front, this meant only one thing. Nigella. This was late 2001, when Nigella-mania was taking off around the country, but before she arrived on North American shores. I was gaga over this new culinary star, she of the sharp mind, witty writing, Botticelli-like beauty and come-hither glances. Who cared if her recipes sometimes promised more than they delivered? She invited me into her cozy, privileged west London world, and I was besotted.
Although my favourite Nigella book remains the ironically titled baking bible How to be a Domestic Goddess, it was from Nigella Bites, which accompanied her first TV series, that my first British dessert came. Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding intrigued me because it was self saucing, a curious quality I’d never heard of before. The process seems dubious but works beautifully – a watery, sugary syrup is poured over a simple batter, then baked in the oven, resulting in a spongy , cakey pudding with its very own sticky sauce below. That first sticky date and toffee pudding was delicious, and although I rarely make hearty desserts (it seems vaguely silly in a household of two) I remain a devotee of self-saucing puddings. They’re simple, satisfying and so very British.
This particular version, banana pudding with butterscotch sauce, comes from the Australian chef Bill Granger via Rachel Allen (who is herself a sort of Irish Nigella for the noughties), with my own twists. The original recipe is toe-curlingly sweet, so I have halved the amount of sugar in the batter, relying on the sticky sauce to provide most of the sweetness. This pudding is also a great hiding place for healthy ingredients, notably whole wheat flour. While this type of flour is generally unsuitable for baking where a light, fluffy texture is required, in this pudding I find that its nuttiness complements the deep banana flavour and provides interesting texture.
Banana Butterscotch Pudding
Adapted from Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home by Rachel Allen
125 g whole wheat flour
65 g caster or granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 ripe banana, mashed
250 ml milk
85 g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
100 g brown sugar
2 Tbsp golden syrup or corn syrup
150 ml boiling water
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F. Grease a baking dish that fits at least 5 cups or 1.25 litres.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and baking powder.
In a small bowl mash the banana and beat in the milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until everything is well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
To make the topping: combine the brown sugar, syrup and boiling water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling mixture carefully all over the pudding. Don’t worry if it seems too liquidy and sinks to the bottom of the dish! Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the middle of the pudding is just firm when pressed. Serve warm with cream.