Friday, 22 February 2013

Dark banana spice bread

Banana Bread recipe 3

How many of us faithfully follow a recipe? I realise, having had a few experiences recently of sitting down to a meal which was not quite what I expected, or wanted, that there is a reason to do so. I seem a little too fond of using cooking as a memory game, like the one with the objects on the tray covered with a cloth – one minute to study the contents, and then you have to remember what to do.

I tend to favour a recipe without too many ingredients, because I am lazy, and I mostly don’t go out and buy ingredients especially for a meal. I am a store cupboard cook by habit. I’m not trying to claim that it isn’t a well-stocked store cupboard, in fact it is over-stocked, so I can’t find things when I want them, and I seem to have a tendency to buy some ingredients over and over again: sesame seeds; lentils; prunes; couscous; turmeric, to name a few. Some dishes are inspired by this over-stocking, and banana bread is one of them. The bananas are bought after the previous bunch is eaten, and then, mysteriously, everyone stops eating bananas, and they become speckled and too ripe for the taste of anyone in my house.

Whose recipes to use? That is the culinary question. Delia's does work, but I turn to Dan Lepard - he is an award-winning baker. I bought a book about bread of his for my mother, who was an expert cook. She told me it was too complicated, which astonished me, since she was happy to make herself paupiettes de veau for a weekday lunch on her own. Breadmaking isn’t for everyone. And in this case, it isn't for me or Dan either. Banana bread is a cake.

I've been using Dan's recipe for banana bread for a little while, with some success. It is simple and delicious, although I leave out the glace ginger, which I usually find tastes rather soapy in cakes. Oh, and I add some pretty punchy spices – garam masala with extra ginger and cloves. I’m not sure why he specifies wholemeal bread flour, and one day I shall try it with just wholemeal bread flour, but for now I use half wholemeal and half ordinary white baking flour. And I often use a bit more banana and throw in some walnuts. Other than that, all credit to the redoubtable Mr Lepard. He calls it dark banana ginger cake, and it is wonderfully dark and a little bit sticky. In addition the spices in my version given it a perfume that can draw you down the corridor with its deliciousness.

As Dan says, if you don't have muscovado, use caster sugar, but replace 25g of that with black treacle.

Alternative banana bread recipe of mine here, and chocolate banana bread here, there is a lot of banana neglect in my house.

This recipe makes two loaves of banana bread.


200g dark muscovado sugar
350g ripe bananas (4 average sized)
125ml sunflower oil
4 medium eggs
200g wholemeal bread flour
3 tsp baking powder
2tsp garam masala (use mixed spice if you prefer)
1tsp ground ginger
½ tsp group cloves


Set oven temp 170C (150C fan-assisted)/335F/gas mark 3
  • Line two medium bread tins with baking parchment
  • Stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, breaking up lumps of sugar
  • Add peeled banana broken or cut into 2cm bits
  • Start beating as you add the eggs and oil, and beat until you have a batter, a bit thicker than cream – there may be some lumps, but as long as they aren’t flour, don’t worry
  • Pour into two prepared tins
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, “or until a careful poke with a skewer in the centre doesn't reveal any uncooked mixture lurking beneath the crust”*

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