Bermuda bananas, as they are fondly known to locals, have become an essential part of the Bermudian diet and culture, thanks to their sweet flavour and versatility in cooking. Technically called Dwarf Cavendish bananas, the fruit was originally introduced to the island at the time of the first settlement, in 1616. Over the last 400 years, they have continuously been used in numerous favourite Bermudian dishes, from the classic codfish and banana breakfast to bananas flambed in Goslings rum.
Bananas thrive in Bermuda’s climate and several varieties are cultivated here, including fig, plantain, red and strawberry bananas, in addition to the Bermuda banana. They are grown not from seed but from “sword suckers” which are planted about six feet apart in deep soil, and a new plant will yield fruit at about 12 to 18 months from the time of planting.
Nutritionally, bananas are an excellent choice for various reasons. They contain iron, vitamin B6, fibre and three types of natural sugar – sucrose, fructose and glucose – making them a great source of natural energy. Additionally, the high potassium and low sodium levels of bananas mean they are ideal for controlling high blood pressure.
When it comes to using Bermuda bananas, the options are endless. Serve them with codfish and potatoes for breakfast, mix them into a fruit salad, bake them into any number of muffins, quick breads, cakes and desserts, or eat them just as they are.
Banana Chocolate Swirl Bundt Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) buttermilk
4 ounces dark chocolate (Bourneville), melted
Butter the bundt pan or coat it with cooking spray. Heat the oven to 350 F.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together, add the ripe bananas and vanilla, mix until well blended and then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the dry ingredients and buttermilk to make a batter.
Spoon half of the batter into another bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and incorporate into one half of the batter.
With a large spoon, alternately add a scoopful of each batter into the prepared bundt pan, working around the pan until all the batter is used. Gently run a knife through the batter once in a clockwise direction to create a swirl.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool on a wire rack. Tap the pan gently to remove the cake.