This banana bread will not only take care of those extra bananas you have in the fruit bowl that are too far brown to eat, but it will also give you a delicious, moist cake that can be eaten alone or with a cup of tea. It doesn’t even need any butter or icing.
With bananas, there are three types of people in the world: those who like them a bit too ripe, those who’ll only eat them when they’re still a little green on the outside but firm and slightly sour on the inside, and those who don’t like bananas at all. Whichever type you are (I’m in the first camp), most people like banana bread, so it’s a great bake to have in the tin in case someone pops round for a cup of tea. It’s best eaten fresh on the first day, but will keep well for a few days before it starts to go stale.
This banana loaf is has a slightly caramel top, which is my favourite part, and it can be slightly gooey or firm in the middle, depending how long you cook it. It does contain eggs, so I’d errr on the side of more well baked if you’re feeding the elderly, young or pregnant. Baking anything in a loaf tin can be a bit tricky if you’re not used to your oven, so you’re at less risk of underbaking it if you leave it in the oven closer to the full hour and a quarter than the minimum hour suggested in the recipe.
Anything with bananas in it can give a false reading if you use the old skewer test* to check if it’s done, as the mashed banana can look very like raw cake batter and vice versa. I’ve always been more of a fan of the ‘prod test’ where you gently poke the cake with your fingertip at its deepest point – if it’s slightly firm and springy it should be ready, and if you leave it in the tin until completely cool the residual heat will keep it cooking a little.
- 100g salted butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanila bean paste
- Pinch salt
- 3 bananas (or 4 if they're particularly small)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 250g self-raising flour
- Grab a loaf tin, butter it and line with greaseproof paper. If you don't have a loaf tin, you can use a couple of cake tins, but it should only need 20 minutes or so in the oven if you use shallower tins. Preheat the oven to 160c fan or 170c conventional.
- Weigh out the butter, which should ideally be at room temperature so it will combine better with the other ingredients. To the same bowl, add the caster sugar.
- Using an electric hand mixer if you have one or a good wooden spoon if you don't, mix the butter and sugar together for at least a few minutes, until they are well combined, soft and fluffy.
- Add the eggs and whisk up again, but keep going until the mixture is very airy, pale and mousse. It's the best way of getting lots of air in to give you a nice light cake.
- Mash up the bananas and add them to the mixture along with the vanilla and salt.
- Mix well.
- Finally, add the flour and mis this in, but this time you only want to mix for as long as it takes for the ingredients to be just combined.
- If you over mix, the cake will come out heavy and stodgy as you'll start to develop the gluten in the flour.
- Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, scoop the mixture into the prepared tin or tins. Make sure there is a relatively even amount of cake batter across the tin, but don't worry about levelling it - the oven will sort that out.
- Now slide the filled tin into the middle of the oven and leave to bake for at least an hour, to an hour and a quarter until rise, brown and cooked through.
- When it's cool, slice up and enjoy!
*The skewer test is where you use a skewer or cake tester (or very thin, sharp knife) to test if a cake is baked all the way through by pushing said skewer into the deepest part of the cake, all the way to the bottom of the tin, then pulling it out again. If there’s batter on the skewer when you pull it out, it needs more time in the oven,but if it comes out clean it should be ok. With banana bread, the banana pulp can look like cake batter on the skewer even when the cake is ready.