by Anna on May 6, 2012
Do you have a deal-breaker ingredient or food? Mine is bananas, though you wouldn’t know it looking at the recipe index of this site. The sight of a banana is enough to make me gag. I’m not a particularly fussy eater and I’ll try just about anything once. I’ve come to love anchovies, peas, mushrooms, eel and sashimi. I’ve happily eaten beef tongue and pigs ears and sago. But a fresh banana? Never. No way. No how. I just can’t get past the sickly sweet smell and the gloopy, mushy texture. I’m shuddering just thinking about it.
However, my housemates, my sister and my boyfriend all love the things and at last count we had over a dozen in our freezer/fridge/rotting in the fruit bowl. Thankfully I quite like them when they’re baked into oblivion and so in order to get this banana plague under control I’ve been mixing them into every cake I can.
This recipe for banana bread is one of my favourites. The banana fades slightly into the background as the bread cooks so that it provides a lovely canvas for warm spices and dark chocolate. Don’t worry banana lovers – the banana flavour and scent is still very much there. It’s just not going to knock you over the head (just how I like it!).
There are a million and one recipes for banana bread and how you play it depends very much on personal preference. The basic recipe for this bread comes from David Herbert’s The Perfect Cookbook, which is an absolute gem. Every second page of my copy is splattered – a very good sign. I turn to it regularly for lasagne, chicken noodle soup, garlic prawns, cupcakes etc. The recipes are simple but not boring and they always work.
This banana bread is deliciously moist and it has a beautiful sticky, caramelised crust. The addition of vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and chocolate are mine. I love how they work with banana but don’t hesitate to leave some or all of them out if you prefer. The loaf will still be delicious without them. A large handful of walnuts or pecans would be amazing in this and ever since I pulled it out of the oven I’ve been thinking about spiking my next batch with bourbon or rum (like this one here – and this one).
Spiced Chocolate Banana Bread (adapted from The Perfect Cookbook by David Herbert)
Makes 1 loaf
230 g plain flour (I’ve replaced 60 g of this amount with wholemeal or wholemeal spelt flour with great results and I imagine you could push it to as much as 80 g)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
125 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
200 g caster sugar or raw caster sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c mashed banana (from about 2 large or 3 small-medium bananas)
1/2 cup buttermilk (or a mixture of 1/2 full fat plain yogurt and 1/2 milk)
60 g dark chocolate, chopped into rough pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 170′C/325′F. Butter a loaf pan and line with baking powder.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger.
3. In a stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the egg is fully incorporated into the butter mixture. Add the vanilla and beat briefly.
4. Add the banana to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Add a third of the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Do the same with a third of the buttermilk and repeat until you have used all the flour and buttermilk.
5. Gently stir through the chocolate. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until the centre of the bread is just firm and it is deep gold in colour – a skewer inserted in the top of the loaf will come out clean. For me this took 70 minutes but it depends a lot on your oven so I’d start checking at 50.
6. Leave to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool slightly (it’s delicious warm from the oven!). It keeps well for 3-4 days.
- I love using frozen bananas for baking. A few hours before you want to use them take them out of the freezer and place in a bowl on the kitchen bench. When they’ve defrosted, run a knife down the side of the banana and peel back the skin. The softened banana should will slither out – no need for mashing! You can also pop frozen bananas in the microwave in 30 second bursts until they’re defrosted if you forget to take them out of the freezer.