The rain in England this weekend was horrendous. It came down with such force that umbrellas turned inside out and you’d be soaked through in seconds. Much of the weekend was spent indoors, and I took it as the perfect opportunity to develop a new recipe for a banana bread – completely from scratch may I add. I wanted to share it with you because I was pretty proud of how perfectly it turned out.
Spending some time in Australia over Christmas, I quickly realised that you can find a doorstop-sized slab of banana bread on almost every brunch menu around the country. Best served cold or in most cases, toasted, and then smothered in lashings of butter, cream cheese or honey ricotta, this is a breakfast treat that is at the top of the breakfast game. It’s also a wholesome comfort food for those cold, rainy days we’ve been experiencing recently in England. I packaged up a few thick-cut slices of this for my brother and his girlfriend to try. My brother demolished it in under an hour – which I think is telling of the fact that this recipe is one you need in your life.
But what makes the ultimate banana bread? For me, you never want to over-complicate what goes in. The banana flavour shouldn’t be masked with the sweetness of currants or rum; rather it should come through as the primary taste. It’s also important to use bananas that are browning, and are past their best for eating normally. They’re at their most flavoursome by this point and also have a great texture for mashing, which brings me to my next point. I like to roughly mash my bananas so you still get some good chunks in there, as opposed to puréeing or chopping them up when they’re still a little too hard to be used. This tends to break up the crumb, creating “pockets” of banana-rich moisture.
Then there’s the addition of complementary ingredients that give banana bread it’s depth and wholesomeness. For this recipe, I decided to use light brown sugar instead of muscovado or dark brown. The latter two produce a deep, complex caramel flavour and your loaf will be darker in colour than most due to their strong molasses content. Whilst this recipe is pretty forgiving, I believe banana bread shouldn’t be overly sweetened and so for that reason I stuck with a lighter sugar that would be less dominant in the bake.
To finish it off, I added some sour cream which adds a beautiful tangy flavour and keeps the loaf moist. It’s also great for activating bicarbonate of soda, of which I put a scant teaspoon in for this recipe. Add a few drops of vanilla, and some roughly chopped pecans which are slightly sweeter than their walnut counterpart, and you can’t really go wrong.
This is an easy loaf to make one midweek evening, or over the weekend. Toast it under the grill and serve it warm for breakfast with mascarpone, ricotta, Greek yoghurt or Philadelphia icing, warmed juicy berries and a drizzle of honey for a kick of sweetness. Alternatively, enjoy at 4pm with a cup of tea and good company.
200g light brown sugar
113g butter softened
3 large mashed ripe bananas
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp baking powder
275g plain flour
2 eggs, whisked
4tbsp sour cream
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp cider vinegar
Pinch of flaky sea salt
100g roughly chopped pecans
- Preheat your oven to 325F/160C, then grease and line a 1L loaf tin with baking parchment.
- Using an electric whisk, put the butter and sugar into a bowl and cream until pale in colour, and smooth in texture. This should take about five minutes.
- Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl, and then mix to combine.
- Mash your bananas into a third bowl and add your eggs (which should already be whisked together), vanilla extract, sour cream and cider vinegar. Mix together.
- Add this liquidy mixture to your creamed butter and sugar, and whisk again until evenly combined.
- Slowly add your bowl of flour in thirds, whisking after each addition and scraping down the sides of your bowl with a spatula as you go. Repeat until you’ve added all the flour, and whisk so everything has been properly incorporated.
- You can now add the chopped pecans. Mix with a spoon.
- Bake for 1hr 20mins on the middle shelf of your oven. If it still looks a little wet in the middle, add on another 5-10mins. A knife or kebab stick should come out ‘clean’ when inserted into the loaf. Your loaf is fully baked if no liquidy batter appears on your knife or kebab stick.
- Leave to cool completely in the tin, before removing the baking parchment and wrapping in foil (or eating immediately).