In praise of the humble banana loaf

Until yesterday, I never quite realised just how important banana loaf was to me. You see, it has always been a part of my life, something familiar and comforting, but something to which I never really paid a lot of attention. You see, banana loaf isn’t really anything special, but it has always been there in the background of life.

It’s something I can whip up with no fuss on a weekday evening with ingredients I always have on hand. It’s forgiving with the amount of banana you add. It’s versatile – I can have it plain, or I can spruce it up. I can add chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, spices. I can use it as a base to get rid of some of the more suspect pieces of fruit I have sitting in the back of my fridge that I can’t quite bring myself to eat, but the waste-a-phobe in me hates to toss out.

wp-1456994961860.jpg

The reality is, there are always going to be fancier, more delectable options than banana loaf – even a banana cake, or banana muffins offer more. But, with banana loaf, I can almost convince myself that it’s healthy, with its comparatively low sugar and butter content (even if I do go counteracting that with the addition of chocolate or Nutella).

But yesterday I had the shocking realisation that banana loaf is much less universal than I’d ever imagined. We were sitting around at lunch time, and our two European interns were describing the big fridge/freezer clean out they’d had in their flat. They commented about how weird it was that a previous tenant had left bananas in the freezer. “WEIRD?! NOT WEIRD, BUT WONDERFUL!” I cried.

wp-1456996317898.jpg
Frozen bananas: Not weird, but wonderful!

I quickly found myself extolling the many virtues of the frozen banana, in part to justify the existence of four bananas taking up precious freezer space at home. “You can use them for banana loaf! Banana cakes! Banana muffins! The flavour deepens, which is perfect for baking! It allows you to save the bananas that are too ripe to eat for another time! You can even whip them up into a tasty guilt-free banana ice cream!” I raved. But apparently I’d lost them right from the start… They’d never had banana loaf. Or cake. Or muffins.

I was shocked. Seriously. Shocked. I still am. To me, banana loaf is to baking, as dogs are to pets. Absolutely quintessential. In fact, my very first post on this blog was a banana loaf. So, while I realise that I’ve posted very similar recipes to this in the past (see here, and here), I decided that I just had to share this recipe with the world. It is too fundamental to life to withhold.

wp-1456994730352.jpg
Mmm, gooey Nutella oozing out of my freshly baked loaf.

I usually use the Edmonds Cookbook recipe as a base, and add my favourite things to it, depending what I have in the pantry. This time, I added hazelnuts and some dollops of Nutella (well… knock-off Nutella). The recipe is super easy, and don’t worry about the lumps of butter that form when you mix the wet ingredients… they’ll melt right back into the loaf when it bakes.

Do you have a recipe that you consider fundamental to life itself? Please share it with me! Also, what do you like to add to your banana loaf?

Basic Banana Loaf

Ingredients

  • 250g (1 3/4 cups) flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 75g butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2-3 mashed bananas

Optional extras:

  • Nutella
  • nuts
  • chocolate chips
  • dried fruit
  • pieces of fresh or frozen fruit: e.g. blueberries, peaches
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dollops of thick caramel
  • Anything else that takes your fancy!

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, fan bake.
  2. Grease a 22cm loaf tin with butter/oil.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Add sugar and stir to combine (also add any dried spices at this step, if you are using them).
  4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with fork. Add melted butter and mix quickly to avoid large lumps. Add banana and milk. Also add vanilla at this step, if using.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in any nuts, chocolate or fruit at this point.
  6. Spoon into prepared loaf tin. If you want to add Nutella or caramel, add half the batter to the tin, then spoon on dollops and lightly swirl into the batter. Then add the remaining batter on top.
  7. If you want to, you can swirl some Nutella over the top, but beware: you’ll need to remember to cover the loaf with tinfoil part way through the cooking time, to prevent it from burning. I almost always forget this.
  8. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Leave for 10 minutes in the tray before turning onto a wire rack to cool.
Advertisements

8 thoughts on “In praise of the humble banana loaf”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s