I am in awe of this man. No really, he has managed to change the banana bread game so completely that I don’t think I’ll bake my banana bread ever again. This recipe is unfussy about ripe bananas and it’s very low on effort- two things that sound like magic to my ears when I’m baking extensively, which I do this time of the year.
Christmastime gets me excited like Diwali never will. Bandra’s Hill Road lights up like a Christmas tree with shops that charge you an arm and leg for hangings and tinsel, and plum cakes get their moment in the spotlight as they’re peddled by the dozen. This year, I decided to stray away from super traditional Christmas puds and swiss rolls, and find newer more decadent delights to fill my trifle bowl and place on my cake stand. The twelve recipes I’ll be putting here are a mixed bag that capture the spirit of Christmas so wonderfully- mulled liquor and spice, warming gingerbread, boozy eggnog- I’ve used a little bit of everything and with each day, you’ll find recipes that I hope will delight you as much as it did me.
This first recipe is meant to be a lighter something to replace a boozy Christmas steamed pudding. While there’s nothing wrong with the latter, I find that it can get too heavy, especially if you’re going to busy yourself with more cookies, trifle and marzipan later. Over many years, steamed pudding has worn many guises- shoutout to Heston’s heart of orange, the Guinness pud and several times, has also been set on fire- but it’s still customary to have it perched up there, so this sesame and tahina version from Yotam seemed fitting. Note that the toasted sesame caramel we’ll be slathering on top is better when the caramel isn’t too sweet, and has more of a bitter toffee finish because the pudding is plenty sweet.
Note: You will need a one litre glass pudding basin or deep glass bowl to make this recipe
Orange Juice 75ml
Dates 12, soaked overnight in water to let it soften
Banana 1/2, peeled, thinly sliced (I used a South Indian red banana, but the regular variety is good too)
Butter 120g, at room temperature, plus a tablespoon for greasing the inside of the pudding basin
Caster Sugar 150g
Self-raising flour 200g
Sesame seeds 3 tbsp, toasted (I do two to three bursts of 10 seconds each in a Microwave till I can smell the sesame seeds)
The Caramel Sauce
Caster Sugar 70g
Sesame Seeds 2 tbsp
Dairy Cream or Amul Cream 200ml
Whisk together the Tahina, the orange juice, the bananas and the dates together and set aside for half an hour. Grease the pudding basin with the butter and line the small base with some parchment paper.
Start on the caramel next. In a saucepan, add the caster sugar and honey, and let this heat over a medium high heat for a five to six minutes undisturbed. Gently swirl the pan , if need be. Once the sugar has turned a dark brown (this is crucial because we don’t want a very sweet caramel), add the sesame seeds and the cream and stir until the caramel thickens. Take this off the heat and add three tablespoons of this to the lined pudding basin. Set aside the rest.
Get a mixing bowl out. Using an electric hand blender, whisk together the butter and the sugar together for a few minutes till fluffy. To this, add the eggs one at a time and beat between each addition till egg is incorporated. Keeping the salt and flour at hand, add both bit by bit to the eggs, butter and sugar mixture, and whisk well. Finally, fold in the date and banana mixture into this gently together with the rest of the sesame seeds and spoon the whole batter into the pudding basin, leaving enough room at the top to rise.
Cover the top of the bowl with some parchment paper leaving a generous overhang on each side and follow this with a layer of aluminium foil. Now get some twine or another tough rope out to tie the whole package together going around a couple of times so that it is well fastened. Trim the foil and paper a little bit from the sides leaving some overhang.
In a large heavy bottomed pan, place an upturned saucer or a small wired metal rack and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil. Lower the pudding basin into this pan, cover with a fitting lid, and let this simmer on low for 2 hours exactly. Check every half an hour if you need to add more water on the side.
Once 2 hours are up, lift the pudding basin out of the water. Let it sit for five minutes before turning it out onto a plate. Spoon over the caramel sauce (you may have to reheat it again to loosen it up) and serve.