But really, can you blame me? I was down in Port Antonio, Jamaica, with my best friend and family. It's where my mom grew up and I hadn't been there for 8 years. That and, coming from a Canadian winter, it was a paradise. I think my favourite things I ate down there were the fruit. You just don't get them so fresh up in Canada. The bananas literally blew my mind.
Every morning we'd have a plate of fruit (bananas, pineapple, mango, watermelon, jackfruit... all amazing), Blue Mountain Coffee, hardough bread and Guava jelly.... Plus something hot, like scrambled eggs (or even pancakes! My uncle did it for us Canadians).
One morning, my Uncle Jim even went to a Belgium bakery and delivered these too all the villas:
The one on the right is a croissant filled with chocolate and the left is custard. The custard was so, so good. Mostly because their eggs are fresh and organic (no preservatives down there!). And they were baked fresh that morning, still warm. This is why I gained weight, haha. And also, probably most likely, because we had amazing meals the whole week. We got jerk three times. Jerk chicken, pork, and sausage. With festivals.
Oh man, festivals. They were the best thing I was introduced to down there. They're like fritters almost, just they're made into logs. A dough with cornmeal that's deep fried into amazing goodness. The best we had were from Mr. Glasses. They were thick and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. One batch we tried at Frenchman's Cove had cinnamon in it, which was a nice touch.
Those glasses are filled with delicious Jamaican rum, pineapple juice and Ting. The plate in the center has festivals. Far corner is jerk chicken and the closest plate is jerk pork.
Now, I couldn't leave Jamaica without baking something with those amazing bananas. And what better to make than a banana cake with cream cheese frosting? Well, a banana cake made with Jamaican bananas and Canadian maple syrup, actually.
It. Was. Amazing. If I do say so myself. Everyone had seconds. The cake is very moist from the maple syrup. Absolutely addictive. I named it after my uncle's first villa, Lolivya (which translates to: 'Lowes Live Here', my mother's maiden name being Lowe) since I have so many amazing memories there and because it is my home away from Canada. It's really a beautiful cake and if, like me, you live in North America and can't necessarily get fresh Jamaican bananas, just do your best to find the most delicious, ripe bananas you can. I promise it'll still taste amazing.
Lolivya Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
For the cake:
- 6 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup 100% pure maple syrup
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 sliced banana for topping
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease two 8" cake pans.
In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl (or in a stand mixer) beat the maple syrup, icing sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla.
Add the flour mix to the wet ingredients in batches, alternating with the milk until it's a silky, delicious batter. Add the bananas. Divide the batter into the two cake pans. Bake for 40-60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the cake is an awesome golden colour.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cakes and let cool completely before icing.
For the cream cheese icing:
- 3 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
- 2/3 cup icing sugar
- 1 tbsp rum
Place one layer of cake on a serving tray. Top with half the cream cheese icing. Place the second layer on top and cover the top with the rest of the icing.
Right before serving, decorate with the sliced bananas (if you do this too early, the bananas may oxidize and become brown. If you want, you could mix the banana slices with lime juice to preserve their colour).