banana 26th April 2012

Recipe: best banana bread

We make banana bread quite often, ostensibly because we often have overripe bananas languishing in our fruit bowl (due to a toddler who only likes them uniformly yellow), but actually because we love to eat it. So we’ve had quite a bit of practice baking it over the years, and have tried several recipes. This one is a winner. Every time we give someone a slice, we’re asked for the recipe, so we thought we’d share it officially. The original recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s book How to be a Domestic Goddess, but has been adapted a bit to make it even more scrumptious.

There are two factors that make a real difference to how good this banana bread can be. They are:

1) Using really good quality dried fruit. We use a mixture of golden and red sultanas and lexia raisins in our banana bread. In most supermarkets you can buy good and better dried fruit. This is the time to go for better.

2)  It makes a real difference using over ripe bananas as oppose to just ripe ones. We wait till ours are dark brown all over. They freeze very well in their skins and deforest quickly, so you can freeze single ones as they come along and once you’ve got four, make the cake.

Recipe:

130g sultanas or good raisins or a mixture of both
50ml bourbon or dark rum
175g plain flour – plus more for dusting the pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
125g unsalted butter, melted
150g sugar
2 large eggs
4 small ripe, soft, darkly speckled bananas, mashed (about 300g when weighed without skin)
30g walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170 C/ gas mark 3,  and put oven rack to lower middle position.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan; dust with flour, and tap out excess (or use paper insert).

Put the sultanas with the rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to the boil.

As soon as the alcohol bubbles, remove from the heat, cover and leave for an hour or so, until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain.

Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then chop quite coarsely.

Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a bowl and mix together.

In a large bowl (we use an electric mixer) beat together melted butter and sugar until well blended.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas.

With a wooden spoon, mix in the walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture, a third at a time. Do not overmix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 55 minutes (but can take longer, depending on your oven and how full your tin, eg if you have used bigger bananas).

Leave in the tin to cool (for at least five minutes, or longer), then put on a rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.