What steps are you taking for Fairtrade?

by Sam Bilton on March 7, 2012 3 comments

The distinctive Fairtrade Foundation logo is something which is becoming increasingly common on everyday items from bananas to coffee.  So it may not be a surprise to hear that retail sales of Fairtrade products increased by an estimated 12% in 2011 to £1.32bn.  Critically, this means that Fairtrade Premiums, the extra that producers receive for business or social development, increased by over 10% in 2011 compared with 2010.

Since it’s inception in 1992 the Fairtrade Foundation has been campaigning to ensure farmers, workers and rural communities in countries with developing economies are fairly rewarded for their produce in order to ensure they can sustain a livelihood.  The Fairtrade Premium has been used for children’s school fees, construction of many primary school classrooms, connecting houses to mains electricity, provision of clean water and extending and equipping a health centre.  More information on the Fairtrade Organisation can be found here.

The Fairtrade Foundation are calling the UK public to take 1.5million steps for Fairtrade – one for every farmer and worker the Fairtrade system hopes to work with – by the end of 2012.  A special Step-o-meter has been set p so that everyone can log their steps for Fairtrade.  As Fairtrade Fortnight (which kick started this campaign) draws to a close I thought I would post a recipe using Fairtrade ingredients.  This is a seriously grown up cake for the ardent chocoholic (although it has to be said my children are rather partial to it as well!).  It is rich and moist with treacly undertones.  The addition of a coffee syrup transforms it into an indulgent dessert particularly if served with a dollop of creme fraiche. It will keep well in an airtight container for several days or can also be frozen.

Banana and Chocolate Cake with Coffee Syrup

Makes 16 squares


  • 200ml vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 300g dark brown sugar*
  • 600g very ripe bananas*, mashed (peeled weigh.  About 5 – 6 medium – large bananas)
  • 6 tbsp (90ml) natural yoghurt
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder*
  • half tsp salt
  • 200g 70% dark chocolate*, roughly chopped

 For the coffee syrup

  • 275ml strong coffee* (brewed in a cafetiere or machine. Not instant)
  • 150g golden caster sugar*

* Fairtrade products


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170˚C / 325˚F / Gas 3.  Grease and line a 23cm x 23cm brownie tin.
  2. Beat the sugar and oil together using an electric mixer (I used my Kitchen Aid but you could use a hand held mixer) until thoroughly combined and aerated.
  3. Mash the bananas using a had blender if available or a potato masher until you have a relatively smooth puree (it won’t matter if there are a few small lumps in it but try to avoid leaving big chunks).
  4. Add the mashed banana, natural yoghurt, eggs and vanilla extract.  Turn the mixer onto a low speed to mix the ingredients together.
  5. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt together.  Add to the banana mix again with the mixer on a low speed to avoid showering your worktop in cocoa and flour!
  6. Fold in the chopped chocolate.  Spoon into a prepared tin and bake in the centre of the 75 – 90 minutes.  The cake will be well risen when done and a skewer when inserted will come out clean.  Allow to cool in the tin before turning out.
  7. When the cake is cold cut into 16 squares. Serve with some crème fraîche and a little syrup spooned over each slice.

Coffee syrup

  1. Place the sugar and the coffee in a small saucepan.  Bring to the boil until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Continue to boil until reduced by half and a syrupy consistency has been reached (it will thicken further as it cools).  Allow to cool but serve at room temperature.


This is a rather large cake which can be served with or without the coffee syrup.  If you would like to make a more modest version, halve the ingredients (using 2 medium eggs instead of 1 1/2 large eggs) and bake it in a 900g loaf tin for around 1 hour on the same temperature.

Sam BiltonWhat steps are you taking for Fairtrade?

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  • Rosia - March 20, 2012 reply

    Book-marked, I love your blog! 🙂

  • Mona - March 16, 2012 reply

    While this isn’t food related, only yesterday I chose to start buying organic, fair trade shea butter. In addition to making sure the workers are paid fairly, I want to make sure there’s no added fillers or metals in my product either.

    And this cake looks FANTASTIC!

  • Anne Maxfield - March 14, 2012 reply

    Love the idea of the coffee syrup!

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