Baking Food General Recipes

Spiced Banana Rum Cake

I’ve been baking a lot this week for some reason. I think the return of cold weather has put me in the mood for it: a warm oven giving off the aroma of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg can go a long way in consoling me on these dreary grey afternoons.

My latest and most exciting baking experiment was this spiced banana rum cake.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, banana rum cake

This is a delicious and simple cake to bake; in my view, even someone new to baking will find the recipe for this cake a tough one to mess up 🙂 Also, most kitchens are likely to have these ingredients lying about in them. It’s based on one of Dorie Greenspan’s recipes, taken from her iconic book “Baking: From my home to yours”.

The cake is also versatile: it can be served at different times of day in varied contexts, such as for tea, as dessert, or even as a mid-morning study-break snack. I decided to bake it on a whim this Saturday and brought it over to a friend’s for dessert. As it turns out, it’s actually an ideal dessert to take with you to other people’s homes because it is relatively easy to transport.

If you’d like to spice up your fall afternoons or a friend’s dinner party with this cake, here is a 13 step guide to making it!


Note 1: I’ve provided the quantities for ingredients in grams (except for a few dry ingredients that have been measured in teaspoons and all liquids which have been measured by volume) because I find measurements by weight to be far more precise in the home-cooking context. I have also provided an approximate measurement in cups for those of you who don’t have digital weighing scales at home.

Note 2: All ingredients should be at room temperature, so set them out a few hours before you plan on starting on this cake.

Ingredients Group A:

162g (1 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp freshly ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt


Ingredients Group B:

85g (3/4 stick) of butter

75g (3/8 cup) granulated sugar

100g (1/2 cup) light brown or golden sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 cups (about 2 large) very ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup coconut milk or yogurt


For the Rum Syrup:

1/3 cup water

50g (1/4 cup) sugar

1/4 cup dark rum/Malibu coconut rum


For the Cinnamon Sugar:

25g (1/8 cup) granulated sugar

1/2 tbsp freshly ground cinnamon


Equipment Needed:

1 or 2 medium bowls (if you use a stand mixer you will need only one bowl)


Stand mixer or hand-held mixer

Measuring cups and, if available, a weighing scale


2 forks


9 inch round cake tin (preferably a spring-form pan)

Parchment paper


Narrow knife or skewer

Basting brush



1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Butter the cake tin. Next, cut a circular piece of parchment paper with the same circumference as the cake tin. Line the tin with the parchment paper and butter the parchment paper as well. Now dust the tin (including the bottom of it which is lined with paper) with flour.

2. Whisk all the dry ingredients listed in Group A together in a medium size bowl until evenly mixed.

3. In a second medium-sized bowl or a stand mixer, beat the butter at a high speed until creamy. Next, add both the sugars and beat again until creamy (about 3-4 minutes).

4. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until smooth.

5. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the mashed bananas. The mixture will look fairly unattractive at this point. Dorie Greenspan describes it as “curdled” which is pretty accurate 🙂 Don’t worry about this.

6. Now add the dry ingredients in Group A to the “curdled mixture”, alternating with the coconut milk (or yogurt). Start and end with the dry ingredients. (In other words, add a third of the flour mixture, followed by half the milk, followed by a third of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the milk, and end with the last third of the flour mixture).

7. By now, you should have a fairly smooth and delicious smelling batter. Pour this into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven to bake for 40 minutes or so, until browned on top. The cake should come away from the edges as shown below. Check if its done by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Spiced banana cake

8. While the cake is baking, prepare the rum syrup and cinnamon sugar. For the syrup, place the sugar and water in a small bowl on the stove on medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved completely bring the syrup to boil and then transfer it to a heat proof bowl. Mix in the rum, cover and let cool. In the meantime, mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl using a fork until evenly mixed.

9. When the cake is done (as shown above), take it out of the oven and carefully remove the cake from the cake tin after letting it cool for about 10 minutes. Make sure you keep the cake intact and place it right side up, with the beautifully browned dome on top.

10. Using a narrow knife or a skewer, poke holes all over the cake. Now, with a basting brush, carefully brush the rum syrup all over the cake, working slowly so that the cake soaks up the syrup evenly. How much syrup you want to use is up to you; it’s not a very sweet syrup, so the cake won’t become overly sweet should you decide to be generous with the booze.

11. Once the cake has cooled and the syrup has soaked in, lightly dust the top of the cake with cinnamon sugar.

12. Serve as is, or with whipped cream and/or strawberries.

13. Enjoy!

Spiced Banana Rum Cake



Cooking Food General Indian Cooking Recipes

How to Make Khichdi: A Low-fat, Fast, and Simple Indian Recipe

I spent much of this past week writing a long note on copyright theory. I had a deadline to meet (as I mentioned, in my previous post about sunbathing kitties) and I found myself working pretty much around the clock. So I ended up eating out quite a bit.  4 days out of the past 7, I walked out in the snow, slush, gorgeous winter sun, or whatever else this bizarre winter threw at me, and got takeout. Finally, yesterday, sick of all this, I decided to make myself some good, comfort food. I needed something that was simple, fast and healthy; especially something ‘fast’ because I wanted to send off the note to my supervisor before the end of the day. “What should I make?” I pondered, and then it struck me! I was going to make Khichdi!

I’ve forgotten all about khichdi these past few years, choosing to explore more complex and indulgent dishes like dal makhani instead. But today was a khichdi kind of day. Khichdi is the perfect food for when you’re sick, or too busy to make something more complicated. It’s just lentils and rice with some mild spices. You can however, add some vegetables (bleugh! (I am not a huge fan of vegetables, you see)) to it to if you want to.

Here’s how to make some khichdi for yourself:


1 cup moong dal (you could also use other lentils like Tur dal for instance)

A little less than 1 cup rice

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder (dry roast cumin seeds and then grind them, or you can buy the powder at the store)

1 tsp coriander powder (dry roast coriander seeds and then grind them, or you can buy the powder at the store)

1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1-2 green chilli sliced horizontally into two. (You can also use half a Jalapeño).

For the tadka (tempering):

1-2 tbsp of ghee (Indian clarified butter, you can make this at home, or buy some at an Indian store)

1/2 to 3/4 cumin seeds

3 dried red chillies

A few kernels of black pepper

2 pinches of heengh (asafoetida)

3 cloves 

Optional Serving Accompaniments:


Ghee (you can find it in an Indian store; if you’d like to make it at home, here is my recipe)

Indian Pickle (you can make some at home, but this isn’t so easy. You can also buy some at any Indian store. I chose a Andhra-style tomato pickle for today).


Start by soaking the moong dal in water for about 30 minutes. You don’t generally have to soak moong dal, but it cooks faster if you do. Also, I like the dal to be well-cooked, even squishy in khichdi, which is why I wouldn’t skip this step in this recipe.

Moong Dal
Pre-soaked moong dal used in making khichdi

Place a pressure cooker or pot (that comes with a lid) on the stove.  Add the lentils, rice, garlic, green chillies and red chilli, turmeric, coriander and cumin powders and stir. Finally, add 2 cups of water, place the lid on the cooker/pot, lower the heat to medium and let the lentil-rice mixture cook. If you’re using a pressure cooker, let the mixture cook until the cooker lets off 4 whistles. If you’re using a pot, just let the mixture cook slowly, stirring occasionally. The mixture is done when it’s squishy enough for you, but make sure not to overdo it or you will end up with a goopy mess.

Now, add one or two tablespoons of ghee (I added two but one will do the trick) to the smallest pot you own, and turn on the heat to high. When the ghee is hot, add the cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter. Then, add the red chillies (torn in half), black pepper, cloves and heengh to the ghee and toss them about. When the chillies darken add this spiced ghee (called the tadka or popu) to the lentil-rice mixture. Your khichdi is done!

Serve with yoghurt and some pickle.

Khichdi- a rice and lentil dish that is great as comfort food, for when you’re sick, busy or lazy 🙂

I like eating south Indian ghee with khichdi, so I served some ghee along with it in a little tart mold. That’s what I placed right on top of the khichdi.

Khichdi with Ghee
Khichdi tastes best with a generous helping of Ghee- Indian Clarified butter.

If you want to know more about making south Indian ghee, you can read about it on this website. I am sure I will post something about it soon enough though. I LOVE ghee in general and South Indian ghee in particular.