Let’s move forward by going back a bit.
Growing up, my mom was the main baker in our household (mom and dad shared the cooking), but dad had one specialty bake: banana bread. He’d never make fewer than two loaves at a time and he would frequently experiment with additions to the mix (blueberries being the reigning favourite). I can very clearly see the printed recipe in my mind’s eye: a really old spiral-bound book with tiny print – a relic of my mom’s earliest collection (from her parents? must ask mom…).
Dad would often let me help make the banana bread, and as I started baking on my own and living away from home, I would often return to this recipe because it always tasted wonderful and reminded me of home.
Has anyone else noticed that banana bread seems to evoke a strong emotional response from others? It’s always been such a homely bake that most people either love it for the memories it evokes, or have their own recipe of which they’re fiercely proud. Even in my short lifetime I’ve taken part in two banana-bread bake-offs (ref: Mitchell, Mal…) and I think the result of both has just been some pretty happy bystanders.
This morning Poppy and I made some banana bread. She made the request several times this week and who was I to say no? Especially when I had some bananas ready and waiting for us.
I’ve written out my family’s recipe below. I’m afraid I can’t reference the source because my parents’ old recipe book long ago lost any remnants of a cover. Plus it looks old enough to be exempt from any current copyright law.
A few tips:
- I only ever use old bananas for this recipe. The older the better. In fact, I use old frozen bananas that I then defrost. So by the time I come to use them they’re black, leathery and really unappealing. But I urge you to soldier on! They make a sweeter, banana bread that has notes of molasses/treacle.
- Keep an eye on the baking instructions and temperatures for the oven. Make sure the cake is cooked through by using a wooden cocktail stick (inserted into the centre of the cake – if anything sticks then it’s not done) – an under-baked banana bread makes fairies cry…it’s true…
- A general principle I use when baking is to assemble all ingredients on the counter before I start and then put them away as I use them. This way you can clearly see if you’ve forgotten to add an ingredient.
- If you’re baking with small children you might want to consider inventing some sort of germ guard between the child and the baking. Mine was mixing the batter when she sneezed and conveniently forgot to cover her mouth. Ugh.
And the recipe:
- 190g / 1.5 cups flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 57g / 1/4 cup butter
- 200g / 1 cup [caster] sugar
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 3 very ripe bananas (mashed)
- Sift flour into a bowl. Add baking powder, soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the egg and then the banana (don’t worry if it looks split at this stage – the flour will sort it out).
- Blend the dry ingredients into the banana mixture.
- Line a loaf pan with some parchment paper and pour in the mixture. Even it out so it’s in all the corners and flat on top.
- Bake in the oven at 190c/375f for the first 30 minutes and then turn down to 160c/325f for 40 more minutes, or until done.
- Blueberry banana bread (might sound like an odd combination, but this is the king of all banana breads). If you keep some blueberries in the freezer with your bananas then you’ll always be ready!
- Chocolate chip banana bread (my older sister would outright disagree with me and crown this as the king…she would be wrong)
- Walnut banana bread (only recently realised that this tastes nice)
- Anything you can imagine! My dad used to put in Smarties, raspberries, peanut butter and anything else he had lying around. It’s fun to experiment and hard to make a bad tasting banana bread with this recipe!
Good luck and happy baking.
I do hope you try this recipe…it’s so scrumptious and super easy. Try slathering it with butter whilst warm, and enjoying with a cup of tea. Bliss!
P.S As I was making the banana bread this morning I realised just how much sugar it contains. Lately I’ve been trying to find baking recipes for Poppy that are lighter on the sweet stuff so that I don’t feel guilty about giving her some of the cake that she’s baked. I figure you could probably cut down on the sugar volume in general, but I suspect maple syrup would be a lovely replacement. I shall have to test and get back to you!