Perfect Banana Bread
Not really a bread, if I’m honest - more of a loaf-shaped cake, but the name lends it a spuriously wholesome air, allowing it to be included on breakfast menus in the States without a blush. And, like many cakes, it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular, the fruit lending a natural sweetness, and delectable gooeyness, to what’s otherwise a fairly standard recipe.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need bananas so ripe they’re almost black, although this is certainly a good way to use up fruit on its way out – the overripe versions are somewhat easier to mash, but surprisingly, they don’t seem to give the cake a more intense banana flavour. However, if you are using really ripe specimens in the recipe below, you may want to reduce the amount of sugar slightly, depending on taste.
I have added walnuts: I love the contrast between the soft, sweet crumb and their slightly bitter crunchiness, but feel free to leave them out, or indeed substitute some other nut if you’re not a fan.
- 350g ripe bananas (peeled weight)
- 180g plain flour, plus extra for the tin
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 4 tbsp melted butter, slightly cooled, plus extra to grease
- 160g soft light brown sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 190C/170C (fan)/ gas 5. Put two–thirds of the peeled bananas into a bowl and mash them with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Roughly mash the remainder, and stir in gently.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl with a generous pinch of salt, and grease and lightly flour a 21cm loaf tin.
Put the sugar, eggs and melted butter into a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer or a whisk to beat them together until the mix is pale and slightly increased in volume. Gently fold in the banana and the dry ingredients until there are no more streaks of flour, then fold in the walnuts and make sure they’re evenly distributed.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake it for about an hour, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.