Over-ripe bananas can be a real pain to use up. Even though there are countless ways to use them it always seems that at the perfect point for which you should be using them, you don’t feel like it, letting them turn from a perfect brown skin to black to utterly mouldy. I have let the banana down all too many times recently and I do love a good banana cake so decided to try Skye Gyngell’s recipe for banana bread from her new book How I cook. This book has been added to my list of best cookbooks of all time. The collection of recipes are so honest and homely and the choices of what has been included in the book seem to have been made with insight and a lot of love for quality and elegant home cooking. So of course when I found out Skye was doing a book signing in Richmond I was there in a flash. She was so nice, genuine, unpretentious and clearly had tonnes of class. These qualities are very much present in her recipes and I think, this one in particular. How could you make something that is usually delicious even more delicious I ask? well, you have to try this banana bread and you will see what I mean. It is perfect, not too sweet, not too heavy and dense and not too light and airy. The book suggests serving this with apricot butter which really intrigues me, I think I will have to try that next time. The recipe calls for ripe bananas with a few spots but I think the browner the better—the more bruised and brown they are, the more flavour you will have. I used some that were on the verge of going black and this turned out divine.
Although I didn’t manage to get a very good picture that kind of doesn’t do the banana bread justice, I think this is the best thing I have baked all year.
125g unsalted butter, softened
250g plain flour
4 ripe bananas, peeled
a few drops of lemon juice
200g golden caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
2 organic free-range eggs
1/2 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
125ml whole milk
75g light muscovado sugar (for sprinkling)
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Butter and flour a loaf tin, and line the base with baking paper. Mash the bananas with the lemon juice in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl till pale and creamy. Then beat in the eggs and incorporate the mashed bananas and vanilla.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon together into the mix. Carefully combine and then add the milk. Spoon the mix into the loaf tin and spread the muscovado sugar on top. Bake for 45 minutes or until done.
Let it cool (if you can resist) and once cool enough to cut, top with slices of cold butter.
Recipe adapted from How I cook (Murdoch).