If you don’t want to see yet another banana bread recipe on this blog, walk away now. Or better yet, perhaps I could interest you in some Asian-inspired, deeply flavored braised chicken or a robust adobo made with beef short ribs and red wine. Or maybe some chocolate cupcakes, infused with dark beer and topped with peanut butter?
If you, like me, however, simply love banana bread, and can’t help making every banana bread recipe that comes your way (and I understand that there may be just a special few of us), then grab a chair and a cup of your favorite hot revivifying liquid and read on.
It’s not just that I love this humble and painfully common loaf cake, its crumb almost always moist and soft, the mashed fruit making it nearly impossible to dry out, so forgiving to the novice baker. Not just that its heady fragrance reminds me all at once of both being a child, and of tropical cocktails. Not just that it lends itself to innumerable permutations. No, not just all that, as if those weren’t reasons enough. It’s also because they are the absolute best way to make use of speedily over-ripening bananas. And I always seem to have those.
You see, for some reason or other (living in a hot city in the tropics does spring to mind) the atmosphere in my flat’s living/dining room can ripen any fruit with embarrassing speed. If I buy fruits today, by tomorrow morning they will all be lusciously ripe, filling my home with wonderful smells. By the next day though, I will be in danger of spoiling fruit, whose smells, I don’t have to tell you, are very far from wonderful. For most fruit I generally boil them with some sugar from a quick batch of refrigerator jam or compote. For grapes, I recently discovered the heavenly effects of roasting them. For bananas however, there is nothing better than banana bread. When I find myself with rapidly despairing bananas I just relieve them of their skins, pop them into an airtight bag, and tuck them in the freezer for future baking. At any given time you will find more than my fair share of frozen banana flesh in my freezer, like some twister banana psycho killer.
So pardon me another loaf…
Nigella’s Banana Bread
(slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess)
- 100 grams raisins (the original calls for sultanas but they are hard to come by over here)
- 75 ml rum (the original calls for bourbon or dark rum…I used this)
- 175 grams all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 125 grams unsalted butter, melted
- 150 grams sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 300 grams very ripe bananas (peeled weight), mashed
- 60 grams chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place the raisins in a small saucepan with the rum and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave to soak for an hour. Drain and set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a larger bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until blended. Add to this the eggs, one at a time, and then the mashed bananas. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the walnuts, drained raisins, and the vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, a third at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Scrape the batter into a buttered and floured, or parchment-lined, loaf pan and bake in a pre-heated 170C oven for about 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave it in the pan on a wore rack to cool.
As far as banana breads go, and I have experienced my share, this one is going right amongst my favorites. Studded with booze-soaked fruit and nuts, it has fixed itself firmly in my rum-deprived heart (nursing mum = no more rum). Not that the rum is predominant at all…simply a pleasant surprise every time you bite into one of the plump raisins. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess has yet to fail me.
This loaf was made on a rainy Saturday afternoon, while C tended a big pot of sinigang on the hob. A simple, puttering-around type of Saturday when little C’s swim class was cancelled leaving time for baking and lolling around at home all day in ratty clothes. Not the most virtuous of activities I know, but something we all could use after a hard week at work. Especially knowing another hard week will follow.
Wishing you luxurious moments of rest and relaxation this weekend…and cake, of course!