I have an ache in the pit of my stomach and a fake smile on my face as I’m telling the boys, ‘every little thing’s gonna be all right’……..like the song!
Max and Alex headed up to the local school this morning with all the other non-Italian kids who are starting school (about 8), they needed to sit their Italian exam. The exam (horrid word!) is to see how much they know in Italian. We have known this day was coming for a month now and have of put it in the backs of our mind until yesterday, when we had to start talking about it.
You could see the colour drain out of Alex’s face at the thought of the new school venture and to be honest, I knew exactly how he felt. I feel horrible now but I know within a few months they will be yelling and conversing in Italian just like the other kids in the neighbourhood; this week will be but a blip in their memory. With everything in life that seems a little hard and sickening you just have to take deep breaths and get through it……..but to look into those big blue eyes and see genuine fear of the unknown really does pull at your heart-strings and make you want to vomit.
One of the many delights the boys have is banana cake. I made it for each of their first birthdays and we make it together whenever the bananas look like they have seen better days. Over summer the bananas have been ripening at record speed so I have been throwing them in the freezer with the intention to make smoothies……alas I have no smoothie maker! So I decided with the looming day of the Italian exam approaching the least I could do was make the boys their beloved banana cake as a treat.
I also haven’t made a cake entirely by hand in a VERY long time: I’m talking no mechanical devices to cream that butter and sugar! I pulled the butter out in the morning and let it warm up as much as possible and then guesstimated the weight of the sugar, flour and milk (lack of scales and measuring cups). I did forget to buy bi-carb (to help break down the bananas) as it is sold in the cleaning product aisle and it is not an aisle I frequent often, so I was hoping the defrosted banana would suffice.
I beat and whipped the butter and sugar until my arms felt like they were turning into tree trunks (about 3 minutes ha,haa). I seriously forgot how hard it is to ‘cream’ butter and sugar together, I mean we just pop the two into the mixer and usually forget about it until you see the fluffy consistency you’re after. It was good to go back to basics once again.
I have never used frozen bananas before and I was amazed at how runny they were which made me think I probably didn’t really need the bi-carb. I think they also gave the cake a caramelized flavour that I have never gotten before.
Once I folded the flour and milk through at the last-minute I could tell the batter was a little denser than I am used to seeing, however, I am guessing that was due to my lack of bicep power and no fault of the recipe!
I did the old butter and flour method for a non stick surface on the tin and then flattened the mixture out and popped it in the oven. I usually bake it on 180 degrees without a fan for 50 minutes and get excellent results every time. However, I had a feeling this wasn’t going to take quite so long. The banana intoxication started almost straight away (good sign) and the kids were all going crazy over the smell while playing Pokemon. I checked the cake after 20 minutes and it looked done but the top wasn’t quite springing back so I gave it another 8 minutes and I think that was about 4 minutes too long as it was a little too dark brown when I finally pulled it out…
I don’t know why I was disappointed with that. The kids inhaled pieces faster than I could pour some milk to go with!
I have just returned from collecting the boys from their two-hour exam and I am delighted to report they all came out looking relieved and happy it was all over. They were bursting with energy and we couldn’t get a word out of them. We found out the head teacher there today was in fact Alex’s new teacher and I couldn’t be more pleased. She is about two feet smaller than me, has a beautiful smile with a kind face and Alex had colour back in his cheeks- I’m feeling hopeful once again!
We arrived back home, I cut up the remaining banana cake and they finally talked about the exam; it was OK but hard. Max said it was hard to read in Italian and then translate into English, do the maths problem and then write it in Italian….Ummm I didn’t even know they could read Italian!!?