Bake like you mean it – Bananananana Bread

As Terry Pratchett said, it’s a very hard word to stop once you’ve started.

So.  For Sport Relief here at school we had a bake sale, one that did very well as we have a hugely talented team of bakers.  Cupcakes, cookies, sports-decorated gingerbread men, cookies, brownies, rice crispie cakes, did I mention cookies?  And banana bread.

Now the banana bread was a slow burn.  Problem is, it doesn’t look the most appetizing and it’s not visually grabbing like the Sport Relief cupcakes or the bright red cookies.  But those who did try it loved it.  Therefore, by popular demand, here’s the recipe:

To make 1 big loaf (or a couple of smaller ones) you’ll need:

  • Greased and lined loaf tin/s – No need to line all 4 sides, just do the 2 long sides and the base so you can lift the loaf out once it’s done.
  • 125g soft butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 over-ripe bananas, mashed – we cheat here and use a hand mixer to “mash” the bananas.  Works like a charm.  Remember, kids, the really sweet, ripe, bananas are the ones with all the black and brown bits on the skin.  Don’t be revolted because it’s not just on the yellow side of green.
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 250g self raising flour.  Leave this in a bowl on the scales…
  • 1tsp baking powder (you can use plain flour, but you’d then need 3tsp baking powder.  And if you don’t have baking powder it’s 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1/2tsp cream of tartar to make 1tsp baking powder)
  • Oven set to 160C

Okay.  Lock and load.  This is an easy one.

  1. Mix butter and sugar until you’ve a paste.  You don’t need the full Kenwood butter/sugar->cream here.
  2. Mix in the mashed bananas, the vanilla extract and the eggs.  This gives you a gorgeous lumpy wet mix.
  3. Mix the baking powder into the flour then sieve this over the wet mix in 3 stages, folding in completely after each stage.  You want a mix that is still lumpy, not a silky smooth mush, so don’t over-fold.
  4. Pour into the prepared baking tin.
  5. Bake for an hour for a big loaf, 40 minutes for a pair of small loaves.  Test with a skewer when time’s up, if it comes out clean, it’s done.

I’ve had “issues” with banana bread being really, really, really slow to cook.  The first time I did this it took a good half hour longer (but still tasted great), so if the skewer comes out with batter on it, give it another 10 minutes and test again.  If it looks like the top’s burning, give it a foil hat at this stage.

Leave it to cool for about half an hour to an hour before you take it out of the tin.  Take it out too soon and mine have collapsed into a gorgeous, banana-bready crumbly pile.  If that happens, just add custard and pretend it’s what you meant to do all along.

This recipe has been adapted from the Banana Bread recipe found on page 209 of James Morton’s “Brilliant Bread” – this is the mark 3 for us according to my notes.  I have learned a lot from this book, most especially not to be scared of sourdough.  Get a copy.

When in doubt, bake.

It is a well known and established fact that a man at home on his own cannot be left with nothing to do.  He must have a list, preferably as long as his own arm, of things to do.  And if no such list exists, he must have a hobby.  If left on his own, he will find the Playstation and before you know it he’s got a level 30 Gunzerker and is starting the Assault on Dragon Mountain again.  Trust me, I speak from experience here.

Based on current television, it seems that baking and cooking in general are really rather popular things to do.  This is fortunate as you might have noticed I rather like cooking but I’ve not done a great deal of baking.  So the time has come for that to change.

A fellow blogger, over at Mutterings of a Fool, is a real exponent of baking and he’s been taunting/tempting/teasing us with his absolutely marvellous sourdough loaves over the past few months.  For a while I’ve been supplementing the weekly salads with Paul Hollywood’s soda bread, with or without beer depending on how we’ve felt.  And at the library the other day, I spotted the Hairy Biker’s Big Book of Baking.

Lunch today, therefore, can be found on page 113.  Fried flatbreads.  It’s a very simple dough made with plain flour rather than bread flour and fried rather than baked, topped with garlic, sour cream and grated cheese.  I remember seeing them eating these during their baking tour of Europe and thinking how good they looked.

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The dough is just resting at the moment, ready to be fried off and topped.  Another half-hour should see them on the plate!

So, once the dough has risen and been knocked back, you divide it into 6 equal portions and roll them out to about the size of a dinner plate.

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Meanwhile, get a large frying pan heating up with oil to shallow-fry these beauties.  Grate a medium-sized slab of cheese and get a clove of garlic sliced.  Fry each piece for 2 minutes on each side.

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Rub with the garlic, slather in sour cream with a grate of pepper and a handful of cheese.

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Eat.

So good I’m making another batch now to go with tonight’s jerk chicken.