Sunday 25 November 2012

Sunday Baking: Banana Bread

I've had this one in draft for a while; I didn't bake it today, I must admit. Instead I made tea loaves with a mixture of fancy dried fruit and chopped prunes, which is delicious I already blogged about the recipe here and it's not really that different.

I was reminded to come back and post this recipe on Friday, when the librarian and I shared a slice of banana sponge with passion fruit icing, lovingly baked by Waitrose, and discussed what it was that was wrong with it. It was delicious - but it didn't taste quite right. We agreed in the end that banana, when in a cake, is best when it's a bit more earthy and wholesome as a bread or a loaf, and that it was a little sweet and fluffy with that icing.

I found this banana bread recipe earlier this year when I was looking for something that would use up (a) my brown bananas and (b) some of that wholemeal flour I almost never touch. This is a Dan Lepard recipe, him what wrote the baking book that is my solid favourite these days, but he wrote it on the Guardian website so I have no qualms in pinching it from there and tweaking it with my changes. Of course it wasn't quite right as his says wholemeal bread flour and I'm pretty sure mine was just wholemeal flour, but it worked anyway.

300g ripe bananas
15ml lemon juice
125g shelled walnuts, chopped (I use the walnut pieces as I like a chunkier nut, personally)
75g unsalted butter
175g dark soft brown sugar
50ml walnut oil
1 tsp mixed spice
3 medium eggs
325g wholemeal flour
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Line the base and sides of a large, deep, 19cm-long loaf tin or similar with nonstick paper, and heat the oven to 180C. Peel the bananas and in a medium bowl mash them and the lemon juice with a fork until smooth. Stir in the walnuts and leave to one side.
Melt the butter in a large bowl the microwave, then add the sugar, oil and spice. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until everything is evenly combined.
Sift the wholemeal flour and soda into a bowl (pick out any bran caught in the sieve and add to the flour in the bowl). Beat half the sifted flour into the egg mixture, fold in the banana and walnut mixture, then fold in the remaining flour gently.
Spoon the mix into the lined tin and smooth the top. Bake for about 60-70 minutes, or until a skewer poked in comes out barely clean.

I'm pretty sure I used light brown sugar when I made this (twice, now - it got a request at work)because I never have any of the dark stuff in. It tastes delicious and quite worthy at the same time; a rare combination, I think.

Whilst typing this I have just remembered that banana cake can be fluffy and cake-y when it has plenty of chocolate chips in it. If I have brown bananas next weekend (and this seems a distinct possibility) they might become chocolate banana cake.

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