, APRIL 11, 2007 (STAR) EAT’S EASY By Ernest Reynoso Gala - ("Baking is an exact science." — New York chef instructor Lorrie Reynoso of the Art Institute of New York Restaurant School USA. First honors, Grand Diplome Le Cordon Bleu Paris)

The Philippines has an abundance of bananas, one of our chief exports that everyone enjoys. From banana cue to banana split and banana ketchup, people love to eat this fruit, especially here in the Philippines. Use the best ingredients to ensure quality, measure the ingredients, exactly set the oven at the right temperature, and mix properly — beat eggs at high speed to gain volume, flour at low speed to avoid a "floury face". Follow these tips and you will have a moist banana cake that will be enjoyed by family, friends, and loved ones. It is easy to put together and very delicious, and definitely one of my favorites.

Tips For Making Banana Cake

• Choose the correct banana.

To have a great-tasting banana cake, choose an overripe banana with plenty of black specks. It has more sugar content, which softens the texture of the cake. An underripe banana will give a bitter taste (mapakla). Lacatan, latundan, and bongolan from Davao are the best types to use. Market vendors would benefit from making overripe bananas into muffins, bread, and cookies instead of throwing them away.

• Use molasses.

Molasses, the remaining syrup found in sugarcane juice, is used in this recipe to make the cake softer, and give it an aromatic smell and nice golden color. Molasses is strong in flavor and blending it with other ingredients will make it more appetizing.

• Use oatmeal.

Aside from being a healthy ingredient (oatmeal reduces cholesterol), oatmeal will help keep the cake moist for days (even for cookies and brownies) because it has almost no gluten content. For hamburger, oatmeal makes the patties softer and moist.

Moist Banana Cake

4 whole eggs (about 1 cup eggs)
1 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh milk
1 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups overripe banana (bongolan, lacatan or latundan)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F or 175°C.

Line a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with wax paper.

Beat in a bowl with a hand mixer at high speed or heavy-duty mixer for two minutes the eggs, granulated and brown sugar, molasses, salt, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Turn the mixer to low, and add milk and cooking oil. Mix for a few seconds to blend. Add flour and oatmeal, and mix until there is no more visible trace of flour. Add the mashed bananas. Increase the speed to high, and mix for another 30 seconds.

Pour the batter and spread on the lined pan. Bake for 70 minutes or until a cake tester or barbecue stick inserted in the cake center comes out clean. Cool in a pan, then loosen out and invert. Remove the wax paper.

You can also bake the batter in 24 paper-lined 2-1/2-inch muffin pans for 20 to 25 minutes.

Chef Erns’ Top 5 Banana Cakes

There is only one entry in this week’s list of top banana cake: the Baguio Country Club banana cake. The highest quality in taste, this dessert will be moist even if refrigerated for days. I’ve tried many other kinds of banana cake, but this is the best.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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