Monday 15 September 2008

Banana bread

Hmmm, I seem to have had a bit of a hiatus - I can't believe I haven't blogged for so long. In my defence, I had to finish the thesis for my masters and hand it in by the 5th September, so in spite of having spent ages writing it up last year I found I still had plenty to do on it. So I lost a weekend of baking to finish that instead. But enough moaning, it's handed in now, yippee!!! Then the following weekend I was packing up for a week long training course for work, so sadly no time for baking then either. Anyhow, one of the consequences of being away for a week was the rather sad looking banana you see above. It had some friends too, and banana cake was crying out to be made. I've tried a few different banana cake recipes over the years, with a particularly successful variation being chocolate banana cake. I've tried a different recipe a couple of times, the first time didn't work, the second was slightly better, but still not edible so I've abandoned that recipe and stuck with a tried and tested recipe.
This one is a winner, and comes from Sue Lawrence. I perhaps shouldn't say this, but I haven't had a failure from her recipes and have a few of her books. This particular banana bread is from her 'Book of Baking' and is in the healthy section. I'm not so sure about that, but I suppose it's healthier than chocolate brownies or cupcakes topped with swirls of buttercream. It is, however, absolutely delicious - the bananas keep it really moist but not squidgey and the spice is very subtle. I like it on it's own at breaktime or lunchtime, but it would make a fantastic dessert with sliced bananas and custard poured over the top. Mmmm, custard! And since I've still got a couple of pieces in the freezer, I think that's what I'll do with one of the remaining pieces. A fitting end for an unloved and overripe banana.

Anyway, on to the recipe.
Banana bread
150g light muscovado sugar
85g unsalted butter, softened
2 large free range eggs
3 medium ripe bananas (weight before peeling about 400g), mashed (I used two very very ripe bananas - the riper the better)
250g self-raising flour
scant 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
-Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4 and butter and base line a 900g/2 lb loaf tin.
-Cream the sugar with the butter, then add the eggs one by one.
-Stir in the mashed bananas, then sift in the flour, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Once well combined, tip into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes, covering loosely with foil for the final 20 minutes or so. It is ready when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
-Remove to a wire rack and cool in the tin for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the tin and leave on the rack to cool completely before cutting (this is extremely difficult because the cake smells so so divinely gorgeous during the baking that you want to slice a piece off as soon as humanly possible!!!). Sue Lawrence says that it crumbles if you cut it warm. I managed to wait, and my slices were fine!

The whole delicious sticky looking cake. If you can leave it for a couple of days the top becomes even more moist and sticky and delicious.

Cut up and ready to take into work. This was a well received cake. They just didn't receive quite as much of it as they might have done ;-)

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