Friday, 15 February 2013

The ubiquitous banana bread

When faced with the (regular) sad sight of the last few brown-black bananas in the end-of-week fruit bowl, I, the canny cook(er), despair not - but rejoice instead, as they are the stars of my most-baked cake ever:

This fail-safe banana bread is (slightly) adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe from her book "How to be a Domestic Goddess", and it is simply perfect: so easy to make, so moist and so full of gooey, gorgeous flavours... Children love it too and the alcohol in the rum gets burned off of course:

160g mixed dried fruit, chopped (I use Aldi's apricots, dates and figs)*
75ml rum
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
125g butter, melted (in the microwave)
150g sugar
2 eggs
4 small very ripe bananas, mashed (ca 300g without skins)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170°/150° fan oven.
Line a  23 x 13 cm loaf tin with baking paper.
Put the chopped fruit and rum into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a minute.
Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and salt.
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar (with an electric whisk or by hand). Beat in the eggs, then the mashed bananas.
Stir in the fruit mixture and the vanilla extract and combine with a wooden spoon.
Add the flour mixture and and combine well.
Pour into the cake tin and bake for 60 - 75 mins until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Late last summer, my banana bread was especially delicious as my Armenian friend Elenia gave me a big bag of dried apricots, apples and pears from her orchard back home - they were SO delicious and sweet:

Oh and did I mention that Nigella approves of my "fiddling" with her recipe: I tweeted her last year about adding a chopped apple to the recipe, and she sent me a message back saying that it was a "brill idea"! That's right dear reader: NIGELLA THOUGHT MY IDEA WAS "BRILL"!!! (I had to lie down in a darkened room for a while after that to stop myself from hyperventilating with excitement...)

*Nigella's original recipe uses 100g sultanas and 60g chopped walnuts instead of my dried fruit combo.
The batter behaves really well and I've turned it into cup cakes, tray bakes - and even little petit fours squares.
I've recently discovered that mashed banana freezes perfectly well - a revelation!

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