I have never really been into sweets but pastry, oh dear, I could never resist. Like most of our preferences, I am sure it has something to do with the way I grew up. In a family of simple means in a country with no foreign imports and strictly domestic production therefore limited and brandless supply of basic food, including sweets. And of course a great influence was my family, sweets were rarely in the house and that was not unusual. Instead, my mum was baking something yummy almost every weekend! And as the children, my sister and I were always required to chip in. That was indeed the time when I developed a liking for darling desserts (and raw dough.)
I really enjoy making banana bread, for several reasons. I love raisins and it fits nicely into the loaf. It’s relatively easy. When done right, it’s so moist, it just melts in your mouth. And mainly, it allows me not to waste bananas! I am not very good in always eating all my fruits while still in tact so I have to be creative and find ways to use them while they are a bit too ripe. The solution for bananas (when they turn their unfortunate black) is to just shove them into the freezer and let them there until I get a craving for banana bread. Then I just take them out, defrost them and voilà, perfect ripeness for baking.
I have tried many different recipes in the past but I think this one is the winner, a combination of different versions until I liked it. yet I still alter the recipe, mainly because I am out of an ingredient, ooops. Let’s see then how to make it. I have to admit, this is the first time I am actually writing down the steps I took of something I cooked. It certainly enriches the baking experience. Writing notes with sticky hands, weighing the flour to determine how many grams are actually in one cup of it, taking photos in between with the flour all over the power button and the endless mess on the tiniest counter top. But no more ranting about nothing and let’s move on to the actual recipe. The banana bread is actually baking as I speak and I think I am getting high on the sweet smell of caramelized sugar.
- 125 grams (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 320 grams (2 cups) finely granulated white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 6 very ripe bananas
- 450 grams (16 oz) soured cream (or crème fraiche)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 3 teaspoons baking (bicarbonate) soda
- 500 grams (cca 3 cups) all purpose white flour
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup raisins
- 3 small pears or apples (optional)
- Loaf pan 12x6x3 inches (or several smaller ones)
1. Preheat oven to 150° C (or 300° F). This very much depends on your individual oven so if it usually over-bakes then turn it a notch lower. I personally use fan oven setting and had it at 150°. Grease the loaf pan with butter or a bit of vegetable oil and spread it smoothly around with a brush. I also dust it with coarse flour and coat it around but that is not a common flour type to find in all countries and you are ok to skip it.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a handheld blender until it has a nice creamy texture. You do want to work this one for few minutes. You can also use fine brown sugar. The bread will then be darker with a hint of caramel taste. I have actually used the brown sugar myself and you can see how darker it got in the photos but I think I prefer the lighter version.
3.Work the eggs into the mixture with the blender on slow speed, one egg at a time. You will notice the mixture will get more liquid.
4. Mash the bananas and mix them slowly into the dough along with the vanilla, cinnamon and the soured cream (or crème fraiche works too.) Use a wooden spoon for the mixing, not the blender any more and slowly fold in all the ingredients.
5. Sprinkle in the baking soda and whisk it through so it doesn’t have any lumps left.
Add the flour, one cup at a time and slowly incorporate it into the mixture. If you are using the soured cream that was a bit runny, use extra half cup of flour so the dough has the right pouring consistency but not stiff and not runny.
6. Stir in the nuts and raisins (unless you are like my friend Martine and can’t stand raisins!) You can also add some sliced pears or apples at this stage pouring layer of dough, adding fruit and adding another layer of dough and on and on till all is used.
Pour it carefully into the loaf pan using a spatula and spread it evenly at the top. It will be filled up high but don’t worry. If you are using the pan size I have provided, you will be ok. QA tested! Alternatively you can split it into two smaller loaves and bake for a bit shorter time. Add it to the oven while setting the rack to the lower part of the oven.
Bake for at least 1 hour, maybe some 10 – 15 min longer. Watch it in the last few minutes. Try not to open the oven door for the first 45min so the heat doesn’t escape. Use a wooden skewer to test the done-ness. If it comes out clean in the thickest area and no dough is sticking to it, especially at the bottom, your banana bread is ready! Carefully, take it out of the oven. To prevent the bread to fall apart during cutting, let it cool off for at least 30 min, I mean if you can handle the torture! I am suffering right now so off to make a nice, photo ready portion, and to enjoy the fluffy delight, at 11PM. So healthy!