James Martin’s banana and Nutella marbled cake
It’s World Nutella Day today so, to celebrate, I (a) bought the first jar since my student days (a very long, long time ago) and, (b) made banana and Nutella marbled cake from James Martin’s Sweet. Cake is a bit of a misnomer here because, in fact, it’s made from two types of dough sandwiched together with Nutella and banana, and twisted to create a marble effect. Banana and Nutella marbled bread then?
The dough is enriched yeast dough. One half is flavoured with cocoa powder and the other left plain. I have attempted to make enriched chocolate dough before, for a dark chocolate savarin, and the result was catastrophic. My husband’s birthday cake ended up in chunks on the patio for the birds, who turned up their beaks at it and headed quickly back to the bird feeder. I was a bit more confident this time. I’ve had better results on the enriched dough front recently and, I trusted James Martin a little bit more than Martha from the 2014 Great British Bake Off whose recipe I used for the savarin – sorry Martha.
There’s a lot of proving time in this recipe – four hours or overnight in the fridge, and then another two once the bread has been shaped. I went for the overnight in the fridge option.
I mixed strong white flour, caster sugar, salt and easy-bake yeast in the KitchenAid. Then I added warm milk and an egg. The recipe says that the mixture should form a sticky dough. Sticky it definitely was. I’m glad I used the KitchenAid for the kneading. I wouldn’t have had a chance if I’d tried by hand. After a five-minute knead, I slowly added softened butter – I’d read the recipe carefully this time, so didn’t throw it in all at once as I did when I made brioche. Once the butter was in, I turned the dough out and did knead it by hand until it wasn’t sticky any more.
To make the chocolate flavoured dough, the recipe says that you add a couple of teaspoons of water to 15g of cocoa powder, and work the cocoa into the dough. I wasn’t sure what to do here. The water didn’t seem to make much difference to the cocoa. I think I was expecting to get some sort of paste. To get the cocoa into the dough, I sprinkled it, bit by bit, onto the top of the dough and kneaded it in. This seemed to work, although it did take some kneading, and I did seem to create pockets of cocoa powder which burst through the dough at some points. I’m still not sure whether I should have had a cocoa paste, rather than slightly damp powder, but I did end up with a cocoa coloured dough, so I don’t think I went that far wrong.
Here’s the dough after a night in the fridge.
To make the cake, I rolled the chocolate dough into a rough long thin rectangle – the recipe says it should be 50x15cm, spread Nutella over the top, and covered the Nutella with slices of banana. The plain dough went on top, so I had a very long, thin Nutella and banana sandwich. The next step was to cut the sandwich in half length-ways and give each half a couple of twists. This I managed with minimal spillage of Nutella and banana – well done me.
The first piece went around the edge of a 23cm springform tin, and the second into the middle. I covered the tin with clingfilm, cranked up the kitchen radiator, and left the dough to prove for a couple of hours. Time for a basket of ironing and a few episodes of Home and Away.
After the second prove, the bread went into the oven at 160° fan for 35 minutes initially. It didn’t look done, so I gave it another five before I took it out. Now, James Martin says that the cake/bread is cooked when the base sounds hollow when you tap it. All very well to say this. Checking that the base of something sounds hollow when it’s in a hot springform tin and the base is covered with parchment is a pretty tricky operation, especially when you’re wearing oven gloves. Anyway, I managed it, and found that the bottom still looked pretty soggy and was nowhere near making a hollow sound when tapped.
It went back into the oven for another ten minutes just on the base of the tin. When I took it out again, i still wasn’t sure. Would bread that’s stuffed with banana slices that are oozing out all over the place ever be anything less than soggy? I got a second opinion from Jon. He thought it looked OK, so I glazed the top with sugar syrup and let it cool. Here is the finished cake.
It’s not as shiny as the photo in Sweet but it’s not too dissimilar. Here’s what it looked like inside.
Was it worth it?
Taste-wise, I’m really not sure about this one. We initially thought that it was undercooked. It certainly felt pretty soggy when we prodded it. Then we decided that the sogginess came from the banana rather than the dough. I just don’t know. I don’t know whether it isn’t cooked properly, or whether I’m just not too keen. For me it’s hmm…, rather than mmm…. On the upside, there’s three-quarters of a jar of Nutella in the house now. I also think that my enriched doughs are improving slowly. Now I just have to learn to bake them properly.