Friday 15 November 2013

Banana Bread

Before I had kids, I would occasionally phone work before I headed out the door and ask them to turn on the oven to 180C.  Roughly fifteen minutes of brisk walking later, I'd carry a 2lb baking tin full of banana bread batter into the staff room and pop it in the hot oven so that by the time morning tea break arrived, the loaf would be ready and the smell of baking would waft through the office. Needless to say, this made many people there happy. Colleagues would leave spotty bananas on my desk, and collections for supplies were made in my name. This somewhat confused the late night workers, as all the crumbs had disappeared by the time they arrived.

Pretty much everyone I know who bakes has made banana bread at some point in their lives.  It is such a staple comfort food, making you feel thrifty in your refusal to bin brown bananas. My husband eats most things, but he hates bananas, so I do try to make it when he is out of the house, or at least for occasions held elsewhere.  I have had the recipe requested many times, as the loaf ends up fairly light in texture compared to most banana loaves out there, but far be it from me to say this is the best one.  I did it with pecans because I had some I wanted to use up, but I think I prefer walnuts as they give a bit more bite and contrast better with the bread.

I started by putting flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together.

Then in a different bowl, I put butter and sugar.

I mixed them.  No, I didn't use a mixer, I used a fancy wooden spoon that I got from Williams Sonoma that I love.

Then, rather than adding eggs now, you add the flour.

And you mix it all together.  I use my pastry blender.  I had to go online to get one of these in the UK, as I hunted through all the cookshops within the city boundaries and couldn't one.  That said, baking supplies are a lot easier to find now that the Great British Bake Off has come along.  Apparently stand mixers have seen their sales increase dramatically, and I find it easier to find things like loaf tin liners that had all but disappeared from shop shelves a couple years ago.

I cracked open a couple eggs,

And whisked them with a mini whisk that used to be attached to a hand mixer that died many moons ago.

In went the eggs.

And I mixed them all up to make a fairly stiff batter.

Then I looked at my bananas.  I had wanted to make this a day earlier, but discovered I had no sugar.  I didn't discover this until I had peeled the bananas, though, so they had been sitting out for a while.  The one on the bottom is approaching fermentation quickly.

Mush mush mush. I didn't know until I had kids that mushed bananas could stain clothes.

In goes the banana mush.  Ew.

Um, I wish I could say this looks better, but, uh...

Let's just throw some nuts on, hm?

Oh, uh, I guess just scrape it out and put it somewhere else.

Yes, there looks good.  So yes - a few years ago, several shops stopped stocking these liners, but now...everywhere has them.  They are awfully handy.  Right, so then I stuck this ugly beast in the oven.

And it came out like this!

Hooray!  I don't know whether I prefer it hot out of the oven, or cooled and more cleanly sliced later on with tea.  Best have it both ways, I guess.

Banana Bread from Joy of Cooking

An unusual mixing method produces a tender cakey loaf with
excellent banana flavour.

Have all ingredients ready at room temperature.  Position a rack
at the lower third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. 
Line a 1.5 litre loaf tin.

Whisk together thoroughly:
185g plain flour
3/4 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp Bic Soda
1/4 tsp baking powder

In a large bowl, beat until light and fluffy:
75g unsalted butter
120g sugar

Cut in the flour mixture until blended and the consistency of
brown sugar.  Gradually mix in 
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Fold in, until just combined:
2 large (or 3 small) very ripe bananas, mashed
60g chopped walnuts

Scrape the batter into the tin and spread evenly.  Bake until
toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. 
Let cool in the tin on a rack for 5-10 minutes before turning
out to cool completely on the rack.

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