Simple Banana Bread

It is getting colder by the day here. What the fuck? But then we are approaching winter here in Hampshire. Luckily I love Autumn and Winter. Here’s why.

* The way how the house feels chilly in the mornings when you first get up. 

* The fact that you can now indulge in comfort food with complete abandon (not too much though). 

* You get a chance to sort things out, like what books to read, movies to watch, etc

* And how, in the Autumn, the leaves changing colour, and there seems to be a sense of magic in the air.

* Plus, when it is freezing, there is nothing to do but bake. Which is where this bread comes in……. 

If I have a couple of bananas languishing in the fruit bowl at the end of the week, I use them to make a banana bread. Sometimes I do one with cherries and coconut, other times I make one with chocolate, but I have never done one that’s just plain, unadulterated banana, with just a hint of spice. A bread you have in thick slices alongside a cup of cafe au latte. I have recently brought some tall white handle-less coffee mugs from IKEA, and these are ideal for milky coffees in my opinion.

I have made the banana bread from Sam Stern’s Cooking Up A Storm before and I was going to share that one, but I decided to try a different recipe. After reading all the recipes for banana bread that I have, I decided to play with the base recipe from The Primrose Bakery, adding cinnamon and ground ginger like The Hummingbird Bakery and topping with crushed brown sugar cubes. I baked it one cold October afternoon, and I quite like the finished results, so much so that this is now in my top ten baking recipes. It is that good. Hopefully you will too.

Simple Banana Bread – adapted from the following sources – The Primrose Bakery Book by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas, and The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf.

A useful little recipe for weekend breakfasts, or an afternoon chatting with friends. If you don’t fancy using the spices, just omit them. Same goes for the crushed sugar topping.

While this bakes, the kitchen smells heavenly. It instantly makes you feel comforted; it appeals to my inner American. It is how I imagine a house in New England would smell on a snowed in day, when there’s nothing else to do but bake.

125g butter, softened 

250g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract 

250g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground ginger

3 large bananas, mashed
Topping: 2-3 brown sugar cubes, crushed 

Preheat the oven to 180c/gas 4/160c fan. Line a 900g loaf tin with a loaf tin liner.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients and fold in with a spatula. Add the mashed banana, and fold in gently. I tend to fold in the dry until you can still see some streaks of them, then I folded in the banana.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin, level the top off, and sprinkle over the crushed sugar cubes.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then lay a piece of foil over the top, and return to the oven for another 25 minutes. The cake is done when a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin.

Serve in thick slices with mugs of milky coffee. Or hot chocolate, if you prefer. A book to read whilst nibbling on this would be fantastic too. Maybe one of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.


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