This week’s WHB is hosted by Katerina of Daily Unadventures in Cooking. Nothing like celebrating the 100th WHB with a bit of cake. My contribution is packed with bananas.
Being a fruit that is high in potassium, fibre and various vitamins, my parents always encouraged us to eat bananas when we were growing up. If not a simple freshly peeled banana, then my favourites were banana fritters and banana split sundaes. I haven’t had a banana split in ages, but do still love banana fritters served with vanilla ice-cream. I also like making banana bread at home when I get a chance to.
The problem I find is (and I hope I’m not alone on this one), when I want to make banana bread, I have no bananas in the house. So, I go to the shops and get some bananas, but of course, they’re bright yellow, and most definitely not ripe enough to be made into a batter. That’s when you have to play the waiting game, for the bananas to start developing their speckled, mottled brown appearance, which would signify their readiness to be transformed into wonderful fragrant baked goods. (A tip I learnt from someone to speed this process up, is to place the bananas together in a bag of uncooked rice. Apparently the rice helps ripen the bananas. I did this once, and am not sure how much it did actually help, but did love the amazing smell that lifted into the air whenever I opened the bag to check on the fruit). But often I find, by the time the bananas are at their peak of ripeness, I haven’t actually got the time to bake the bread! So they sit in the kitchen, languishing and languishing until one day they are so dark and shrivelled and starting to form a banana planet for fruit flies, that I have to chuck them out. So, no banana bread, and a completely fruitless exercise.
Sometimes, I get lucky with the timing, and that’s when I get to whip out the bowl and wooden spoon and make banana bread. Everyone I’m sure has their favourite banana cake/bread recipe. I’m no different, but I recently discovered this recipe by Belinda Jeffery, and it could well be my new favourite. The loaf has a wonderful caramel tone to it, and is amazingly moist and full of flavour. It also is, I might add, reasonably healthy and very easy to make. And while I changed the ingredients in my bread to suit my tastes, I’m including the original recipe for your perusal, and urge you to try it out for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!
Sticky banana, pecan and date loaf :
(recipe from Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery)
185g spelt flour or plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
120g roasted walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
220g pitted dates, roughly chopped
220g castor sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) light olive oil
3 very large ripe bananas, mashed (about 310ml)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
sunflower seeds or pepitas or both, for topping
1. Preheat your oven to 180’C. Butter a large loaf tin (about 23x13x6cm) and dust it with flour. Set aside.
2. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt into a medium-sized bowl and whisk them together with a balloon whisk for 45 seconds (or you can just sift them into the bowl instead). Add the nuts and dates and toss them about so they’re thoroughly coated in the flour mixture.
3. Put the sugar, eggs and oil into another bowl and whisk them together for 1 – 2 minutes or until they’re light and creamy. Add the mashed banana and vanilla extract and whisk them in for another 30 seconds or until the mixture is fairly smooth (don’t worry that it’s not completely smooth – there will be some little lumps of banana in it).
4. Stir the dry ingredients into the banana mixture until they form a somewhat sloppy batter. Scrape this into the prepared tin and sprinkle some seeds on top.
5. Bake for about 1 hour or until the top of the loaf is springy and a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, before turning it out onto the rack to cool completely. It keeps well in the fridge for about 5 days.