the best - banana bread

Banana bread falls into the category of comfort foods like macaroni and cheese or meatloaf with mashed potatoes. It's one of those dishes that fills your home with sweet smells and has everyone waiting in anticipation for it come out of the oven. Smothered with butter still warm it's one of life's small pleasures. It's also super easy to make. As the introduction to this recipe states if you've never baked before this is the perfect recipe to start with. My go-to recipe comes from Nigella Lawson, of course.  It's easily adaptable which I like. You can add nuts, raisins, coconut or chocolate to this recipe. (I always add chocolate!). I've also gotten into  the habit of making two loaves every time I make this so I have one to eat right away and another one in the freezer. It takes maybe an extra five minutes of prep time. And if you have  a helper like I do the stirring time is reduced by half!

You'll notice that my batters look a little different. To one I added chopped dark chocolate and golden raisins and to the other I added chocolate chips I had left over.

Banana Bread (adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess)

Ingredients:

  • 100g sultanas
  • 75ml bourbon or dark rum
  • 175g all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150g sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small, very ripe bananas (about 300g weighed without skin), mashed
  • 60g chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin, buttered and floured or with a paper insert

Method:

Serves: Makes 8-10 slices
  1. Put the sultanas and rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. Remove from the heat, cover and leave for an hour if you can, or until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3/330 F and get started on the rest. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit. Scrape into the loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-11/4 hours. When it's ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer.

Adaptations:

1. If I don't have bourbon or rum for the sultanas I use water. I sometimes omit the raisins all together.

2. For a chocolate version, substitute 25 g of the flour for cocoa powder and add 100g of chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Or just add in the chocolate and skip the cocoa.

3. Any nut can be substituted for the walnuts. Or try adding coconut for another variation.

Of course, the best way to eat this is hot out of the oven with a salty butter just slathered on. I always hope a loaf will get me through the week but by Tuesday night the whole thing is usually gone.