A few years back, in an effort to get The Twins to eat fruit in any form whatsoever during their morning break, I made loaf after loaf of banana bread and packed it into their coat pockets for their snack. One day, after school, one of the other mums came up to me and said, “The banana cake you make for your kids looks really good.”
Cake?! I wouldn’t give my kids CAKE for a healthy mid-morning snack!
But, as it turns out, of course I do. What’s the difference between cake and bread if they both contain flour, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla? Well, the fact that I put butter on the top of the banana bread is one difference, but even then, I’d be hard-pressed to say it’s very different from a butter cream frosting.
It’s the old American/British thing, I guess – I say tom-ay-toe, you say tom-ah-toe, I say banana bread, you say banana cake.
Although the weather hasn’t really co-operated much by changing into what we might recognise as summer, bananas – never seasonal for us but somehow associated with winter –have been languishing in the fruit bowl in favour of the fresher, more summery offerings. So when the kids asked me to make some banana bread (clever kids, they know not to call it cake if they want me to make it!), it seemed a fitting way to end the spring and joyfully usher in a new season.
After all, every celebration deserves cake… er, I mean, bread.
makes one 9″ loaf
I thought about putting this recipe on the blog while I was making it, but then I thought, “Does the world really need another banana bread recipe?”
So I carried on, scraped the batter into the pan and licked the spoon (don’t we all? anyway, it’s good insurance against mistakes going too far, as happened with the brownies) and I thought, wow, that’s really tasty! So, yes, I think the world does need another banana bread recipe.
The flavour in this bread comes from many sources: the butter, which adds a rich note; the whole wheat flour which adds a nutty quality and a good, healthy (and healthful) texture; the dark brown sugar, which adds a caramel note to the background; and the vanilla, which just improves everything, if you ask me. To keep the texture from becoming too heavy and dense, I’ve used some white flour and some white sugar.
And I’ll let you in on a secret: I normally throw neglected, browning bananas in the freezer to sit until I want to use them for banana bread, and that works very well, especially if I remember to peel and portion them first (it could happen!). But this time I used perfectly ripe bananas and the bread was delicious. So don’t feel you have to wait for the manky bananas to dive in. Use whatever you’ve got, and the bread will be great.
- 150g (1.25 cups) white, all-purpose flour
- 100g (3/4 cup) whole wheat flour
- 100g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 50g (1/4 cup packed) dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 115g (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 3 ripe large bananas (approximately 1 pound or 454 grams), mashed well
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl. The bran in the whole wheat won’t go through the sifter, but you can pour it in after everything else has gone through. You might be wondering: why sift, in that case? There are a couple of reasons.
The first is that sifted ingredients, because the clumps have been eliminated, are easier to mix into the wet ingredients quickly, which means you are less likely to over-mix the batter while you try to get out those last few lumps of flour or brown sugar.
The second reason is that sifting dry ingredients together effectively pre-mixes them, and that means they are more evenly incorporated into the wet ingredients. In the finished product, that means no big holes where a cache of baking soda – for example – didn’t get mixed through.
In a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, mix the bananas with the wet ingredients. Add the sifted dry ingredients and with a few, swift strokes, mix everything together until there is no more flour showing (don’t worry about lumps – you have pre-sifted, so the only lumps should be the banana bits).
Pour into a parchment-lined loaf tin, and bake at 180C (375F) for 45 minutes to an hour (or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean).
When done, remove from the tin, and cool on a wire rack. Serve with or without butter for breakfast, snack, lunch or dinner – it’s bread, after all.