As my poor KitchenAid sits proudly on the kitchen top, gleaming, begging to be used, & at least 3 Amazon deliveries of cookbooks have made their way to cookbook corner, their pages eagerly awaiting a dusting of flour & a splash of batter, alas I have not had the time or energy to commit this last week. It’s times like these that everyone should have a recipe up their sleeve, a recipe that requires very little effort & commitment, a recipe that has been made so many a time that it can be produced on autopilot, a recipe whose end result will please all senses, a recipe that will be enjoyed & looked forward to for the rest of the working week. For me, this recipe is banana bread.
I still recall the very first time that I tasted this little wonder. When I was a little girl, one of my closest friends lived right at the end of my street (not that far considering the village that I grew up in only consisted of two). We would spend most of our after school hours climbing trees, on bike rides, at sleepovers, in swimming club & (just when it couldn’t sound anymore cliché) on occasion, I would join her & 2 younger sisters on a visit to their grandparents farm. It was here, after a busy day of building dens & the like, that I was kindly offered a slice of homemade banana bread, still slightly warm from the oven. It was delicious, hearty, sweet, something that coming from a family quite unadventurous in their eating habits, I had never experienced. I am eternally grateful.
I truly believe that it is this experience which lead to me becoming the kind of person who purposely buys the slightly bruised, blackened, lonely bananas in the reduced aisle of Tesco (thus resulting in multiple breads being baked & the beginning of a very unhealthy collection of loaf tins). Part of a banana breads beauty is that it uses that what would otherwise be wasted & with a few storecupboard ingredients, transforms it into something even more delectable.
No matter how hard pressed I am for time, I can always find enough to bake a mid-week banana bread. For me, the pleasure of a thick slice, toasted & topped with a good quality salted butter is justification enough. Not to mention the undeniable aroma that fills the house as it bakes, a scent that will grant you with a sense of domestic goddess (I kid you not). Now, I have made more variations & tweaks to this recipe than I could dare to count over the years, & no doubt I will make many more, but for now, (for me), it is perfect. So before I begin sounding like I’m forming my own banana bread appreciation society, I bring you comfort in a loaf tin. Happy toasting.
(makes one large 2lb loaf)
- x3 large bananas (or 4 medium)
- 1 large egg
- 5 heaped dessert spoons buttermilk
- 30ml rapeseed oil
- 70g light muscovado sugar
- 150g self-raising flour
- 220g wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp each of nutmeg & cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 50g of pecans (or walnuts)
- In a large bowl roughly mash the bananas with a fork or a masher until it resembles a chunky puree
- Add the eggs, buttermilk, rapeseed oil & muscovado sugar to the bowl & beat everything together
- Sift in the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt & the spices
- Fold everything together using a spatula or large spoon (as though it were a muffin mixture) until just combined & no dry flour remains
- Finally add the pecan to the bowl & fold through until evenly distributed
- Pour the mixture into a large, greased & lined 2lb loaf tin & bake at 160C for 1 hour, 30 minutes until golden on top & a skewer inserted into the centre of the bread can be removed cleanly, without any mixture stuck to it
- Allow the loaf to cool for 10 minutes in its tin before removing & allowing to cool fully on a cooling rack
It is said that bananas are a happy food, releasing serotonin & the like, so that’s the science covered. Slice, toast & enjoy the happiness.