Flatmate hates bananas. Lovely One adores them. There’s a fruit-based power struggle taking place in our kitchen and more often than not it’s Lovely One who wins. His legendary sweet tooth takes down all in its path.
But brown bananas are a NO. I rather like them – a sort of overripe fermented tang and that lovely sweet smell (all produced by something called esters, apparently). There’s a hint of nail-varnish like you get in old-fashioned pear drops and to be honest, it’s a blinder with yoghurt and muesli. But some people are super-sensitive to the taste and many can’t bear the smell of a brown banana. Lovely One is one such afflicted. It’s at times like this, when someone’s bought yet another load of green bananas (FILTH), that you have to take immediate steps lest this all end in a kind of banana cold war with stockpiles of fruit taking up room everywhere while LO buys yet more bananas that I can’t possibly eat because the other ones have “gone manky.”
I love an old-fashioned banana bread. Is it a bread? Is it a cake? Look, all I know is that it’s teatime’s MVP, it’s easily customised and there is no better way to use up bananas past their best. So when LO gagged while eating a nana the other day I knew what had to be done.
Banana Bread (adapted from James Morton’s Brilliant Bread, Ebury Press 2013)
Makes – two medium loaves, one massive one (think 2lb loaf tin) for a 23cm cake
I’ve adapted this recipe in the sense that I’ve upped the flour and added a blob of yoghurt which gives a lovely tang to the cake. In terms of bits and bobs, as James says, you can add a couple of handfuls of whatever you like, but dredge with a bit of flour so they don’t sink too much. I like white chocolate and pecan but cherry and almond is nice too. Let your imagination be your guide!*
125g soft butter
250g caster sugar (I used 210g caster and 40g vanilla)
2 large overripe bananas
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (if you haven’t got vanilla sugar)
270g self-raising flour (I used some posh sponge flour as that’s what I had to hand)
2 tsp baking powder**
Preheat the oven to 160C and line your tins. Please line your tins – don’t be a hero. I chose not to today for one of the tins and now have chunks of banana cake in the bottom of one. This is a soft sticky cake, so it needs some help. (see, fucking up so you don’t have to! I am a saint.)
Cream your butter and sugar together until soft – don’t worry about creating creamy airiness, this is a homely brick of a cake. Then mash up your nanas and stir them in, followed by the egg, yoghurt and vanilla (if using). Then whisk the baking powder into your flour, and fold it in. You don’t need to be especially careful, just make sure any huge lumps are avoided.
Then slide into the oven and bake for 40-60 min. This is a long slow bake which creates a crunchy golden crust and a soft interior. I’m sure you’d end up with a drier, less damp cake if you whacked up the heat to 180c but I actually prefer the sweet sticky version. Chacun a son gout, n’est-ce pas?
*up to a point. Like, don’t be freaky. If I hear about someone adding steak and kidney and being all “hey Lewishambles told me to go hog wild!” I will be SO CROSS.
** why so much?! I hear you cry. Because, science fans, bananas have stuff in them which neutralises the effect of your baking powder. So you have to add a little more to get a good rise.