*Note: I actually penned this post waaaaaayyyy back in July, however with the small matter of moving across the country I’ve neither had the time nor energy to cook/photograph/write. Fortunately this recipe actually relates to the past few days. It’s been extremely confusing returning to small town Western Australia after 18 months away and what with the jet-lag and general moving related exhaustion the only thing I particularly feel like doing is face-planting into a big slice of warm, buttered banana bread. Or the whole loaf.
We all have a ‘best’ banana bread recipe. One that beats all others. Surpasses that of any other we have eaten. I have thus come to the conclusion that there is no one paramount recipe, simply good and great (with the occasional dud of course). As with most foods, each and every person has his or her own unique preferences. Take banana bread – do you like it crumbly or more solid? Super sweet or brilliantly bananary? Bran versus no bran? Do you like spicing it up with add-ins, and if so which ones – raspberries, chocolate, peanut butter, the kitchen sink, or are you a stickler for convention? And as every café will should ask, toasted or fresh? The varieties are practically endless. Similar to when discussing music preferences, it is wise to take heed of the fact that there is no right answer (something that my sister and I fail to do). Fortunately we don’t need to remember that when it comes to banana bread because we tend to agree. Shocking, right?
Our preferred ‘type’ must be solid, slightly chewy, relatively health conscious (wholemeal flour, lots of All-Bran and minimal sugar) and have a sticky top. Don’t ask me how the sticky top occurs because it beats me. Mix all the ingredients together, slap it in a loaf pan, slide into the oven and half an hour later you have a sublimely smelling loaf with a sticky top. I truly think that the smell of freshly baked banana bread is one of the most irresistible aromas in the world. Banana bread perfume anyone?
The recipe in question is one that I have been baking since I was a wee thing. I can vaguely remember meticulously cut it out of the back of an All Bran box in the earliest days of my recipe hoarding obsession. Give me a recipe book and I would be occupied for hours – a far better distraction than a new doll! Now, it is important to note that this recipe is mine because in our household we have two – ‘Shani’s’ and ‘Dad’s’. As a result when someone requests that banana bread be baked it is always wise to verify which one. In trying to stick with my earlier diplomatic statements I feel obliged to say that neither is better than the other. However, I find myself having to surpass a smug smile when mine is picked.
Oh, and one final thing regarding matters of waste. The uglier, mushier and more repulsive the banana, the more flavoursome your bread will be. If you’re not feeling the creative vibe, banana bread is the recipe to fall back on when you discover that forgotten (and smelly) bunch hiding away in the back of your pantry…
Makes one large loaf.
¾ cup wholemeal self-raising flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp powdered milk
1 cup All-Bran cereal
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas). The riper the better.
2 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 1.5L (6 cup) capacity, or similar, loaf tin.
Sift the flour, bicarb soda and powdered milk into a large bowl. Stir through the All-Bran and caster sugar.
In a small bowl gently combine the mashed banana, egg and water with a fork. Tip into the dry mixture and fold with a spatula or large spoon until just combined.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until risen, golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Mine always cracks on top – we did learn how to fix this in my cooking course, however I think it gives it character!
Leave in tin for five minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
Eat warm, cold or toasted and with or without butter.
Source: Almost certainly from the back of an All-Bran box, though it has been tweaked considerably over the years.