Coconut and Cherry Banana Bread

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One of my most requested cakes for when my family have visitors.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘But what about your weight-loss regime, Jack?’ Well, a little of what you fancy now and then never hurts you, I say.

Whenever I have some bananas that are incredibly ripe in the fruit bowl I knew it’s time to make some kind of banana cake. I have a few options: a really easy Old-Fashioned Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from Ina Garten; two Banana Breads from Nigella Lawson, and a Muscovado Banana and Chocolate Cake from Nigel Slater. This time I decided to go for one of Nigella’s banana bread recipes, only because I had some coconut and cherries to use up in the larder. The other one calls for rum-soaked sultanas and chopped walnuts, maybe next time.

After tasting this the first time I made it, I decided this recipe is a keeper. Ideal as an after-school snack or lunch-box for your children or grandchildren; or even as a little treat for you with a cup of tea or coffee mid morning or afternoon. I can even see this as a great addition to a picnic. My uncles have been known to take this on fishing trips.

Coconut and Cherry Banana Bread – adapted from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson

I’ve found this cake needs at least a day before eating.

Plus, in the original recipe, Ms Lawson stipulates dried sour cherries, I didn’t have any one day so I used glace cherries, which my mum preferred. So I now make it with the latter. You can use whichever option you prefer.

175g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp each bicarbonate of soda and salt
125g unsalted butter
Enough bananas to weigh 500g, weigh them in their skins
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g dessicated coconut
100g dried cherries or glace cherries

Preheat the oven to 170c/fan160c/gas 3. Line a 2lb loaf tin with a paper liner. Combine the flour, raising agents and salt in a bowl, set aside. In a small pan, gently melt the butter on a low heat. Remove from heat when melted, and leave to cool a little. Meanwhile, peel the bananas and mash them in another bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the melted butter and sugar until combined. To this add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, now add the mashed banana. Scrape down the sides with a spatula. Gradually add the flour to this, folding in as you go, then fold in the coconut and cherries.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin, and bake for 50 minutes-1 hour in the oven, covering with paper after 30 minutes if it’s browning too much. It is ready when an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in its tin on a wire rack.

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