Sunday, 11 May 2014

Banana and Chocolate Cake for £1

You may very well have heard of the international anti-poverty campaign, Live Below The Line. Held this month and next it raises awareness and funds for the 1.2 billion people in the world, nearly twenty times the population of the UK, living in extreme poverty each day. Guardian writer, cookbook author and antipoverty campaigner Jack Monroe, previous Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Sherlock Actress Amanda Abingdon have all wrote of their experiences joining the campaign by living on just £1 a day.

Meanwhile, Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog has set the challenge of baking a chocolate cake for £1 or less for this month's We Should Cocoa blogging challenge. It's proved absolutely fascinating so far seeing how all the entrants have produced a delicious chocolatey cake for less than one British pound.

From baking on really a rather regular basis I knew the challenge would be cutting the costs of the eggs and butter, traditionally the most expensive ingredients in any cake. Decent chocolate would also nudge the costs skywards. I scribbled down some olive oil based recipes, researched how to cut down on the egg content and figured a smaller loaf shaped cake would save on the costs of ingredients. And then, among all the fluttering scraps of paper, I spied a very ripe banana in the fruit bowl. Perfect: it would add flavour, depth and avoid an over-dry cake. The final costing came in as just under £1 for the cake itself and just over £1 with the decoration, as detailed below.

Banana and Chocolate Loaf Cake for £1

For the cake:
1 large ripe banana
1 tbsp milk
75g caster sugar
50g soft margarine
75g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
0.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
0.5tsp baking powder
1 free range egg
50g plain chocolate, cut into chunks

To decorate:
Half a dozen Banana Chips, roughly chopped
10g chocolate, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 450g/1lb loaf tin with baking paper
2. In a large bowl, mash the banana, milk and sugar together with a fork. Beat in the egg with an electric mixer, followed by the butter until combined
3. Sift through the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and fold the ingredients together. Stir through the chocolate chunks
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean
5. Cool in the tin for ten minutes before removing and leaving to cool on a wire rack
6. Decorate with the melted chocolate and banana chips

Baker's notes:
  • This recipe is based upon a Mary Berry Banana and Chocolate Chip Loaf
  • I cut costs by using value range flour and value range chocolate cut into chunks rather than premium chocolate chips and using margarine rather than butter. Using a 1lb loaf tin rather than my usual 2lb loaf tine meant the costs were halved
  • My testers were pretty impressed and asked for seconds...the cake was gone in (erm...) seconds.
  • This challenge has made me really appreciate how much I take for granted the freedom and ability to buy pretty much any ingredient I like, mostly regardless of the cost. 
  • My full costings are as follows, calculated Sunday 11 May 2014, from Tesco Online:
For the cake:
Banana 14p
Milk 1.1p (from 4 pints)
Soft Margarine 13.8p 
Plain Flour 2.25p (from 1.5kg Value range bag)
15g Cocoa Powder 24p
Caster Sugar 9.2p
Bicarbonate of Soda and Baking Powder 2p
1 Free Range Egg 17p
Plain Chocolate 15p

Total 98.3p

For the decoration:
Banana Chips 2.45p
Chocolate 1.5p

Total for the decoration: 3.9p


  1. Looks delicious, love the banana chip topping its really effective! Well done on 98.3p!

    1. Thank you Anne! The decoration cheekily brings the total over a pound but I do like a pretty cake!

  2. Oh, your cake is quite beautiful Kate. Taking it a few pennies over the £1 for that seems totally worth it. Beauty as well as taste give a much needed boost to the spirits. Thanks for taking part in the challenge.

    1. Thank you so much Choclette and for bringing all our attention to this incredibly important campaign

  3. It looks delicious and I will bookmark the recipe for future use.
    You're right, we do take freedom of choice of ingredients for granted and this challenge has been good for making us think about costs properly.

    1. Absolutely- it's reinforced the need to make every last use of all the ingredients I can pop in the trolley without so much of a backward glance and ensure no waste

  4. This is fascinating - baking uses so many store cupboard ingredients that it is really interesting to see exactly how much making a cake costs. Plus it looks delicious!

  5. well, yours wins hands-down prettiest cake... well done for doing it so beautifully!

  6. Wow what a gorgeous looking cake. I love bananas in cake so I'm sure it added lots of flavour and texture. I am really impressed at everyone's cakes for this challenge and have yet to work out what I'm doing!

    1. And me- I've thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's contributions and ideas!

  7. I love this and will be mentioning it in my next cooking on a budget course, thanks! I love banana and chocolate together and this cake is wonderful. Love your photos here too!

    1. Thank you so much Laura- that's great to hear it'll be hopefully a helpful addition to your next course!

  8. It's a really interesting challenge isn't it? I've just had a go and although I'm quite pleased with the results, my cake is not as beautiful or as interesting as yours! Seriously impressive!

  9. Wow this is awesome! :) As if it was just a pound.

  10. I wouldn't have guessed this cake cost less than £1 to make. It's lovely.

    1. I think the few shortcuts with the margarine and using cheaper chocolate and only one egg really made the difference cost wise

  11. I'm definitely taking my hat off to you for this cake. That amount of yumminess for less than a pound is a deeply impressive feat.


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