Have Cake, Will Travel

Any time you need to bake ahead, I tend to have the same advice- oil cake or loaf cake. Oil cakes are a god send as the texture is often denser, which means the cake can’t be accused of being light and fluffy. In my experience light and fluffy is also code for “perishing before my eyes”. Think about it, that lemon sponge or chocolate sponge you took to work for your birthday- was it great for elevenses, divine after your jacket potato but a bit past its prime just before 4pm? But how about the slice of carrot cake in the fridge you had, the day after you took a wedge home from your friends house? Still moist? Just as good, if not better? Its the beauty of an oil cake. I tell people all the time- if you have to make a cake which needs intricate icing, if you are catering an entire buffet, if you are having people round for dinner and have no idea how you will cook, clean the house, pick someone up from the station AND manage a shower and a change of clothing- pavlova or oil cake are your best friends, as both allow you to get ahead of the game.

So to Norfolk I took a banana bread with me. And this, my friends, is the recipe I share with you today. Everyone has a banana bread recipe to share. It’s like a modern food bloggers rite of passage, share a banana bread recipe. Trite, dull, uninspiring- banana bread. And yet, I never got excited about it. Instead of banana bread, until recently I favoured freezing overripe bananas for smoothies or milkshakes, as its a great thickener. Indeed, I have so many frozen bananas in bags and frozen bags of egg whites in my top freezer draw it looks like some cannibalistic sperm bank. But I kept coming back to the idea that every bakery and every bakery book I own has some recipe or other for a banana loaf, usually with a walnut in it, that I can’t see why I don’t get on with it. So I decided to figure out what was the base of every recipe, and what can I do to be more inspired, and I have married the best bits into this recipe, which I’m happy to call my better than basic Banana Bread.

Adam’s Better-than-Basic Banana Bread

What you need:

1 x 9″ loaf tin, greased and floured (If you have a slightly smaller one, line a muffin tin with a few liners and use any leftover mix for some banana bread muffins)

Stand mixer with whisk attachment, or bowl and hand mixer (with whisk rather than beaters if yours allows)

Separate large Bowl and sieve for dry ingredients

Large measuring jug

Ingredients:

Large eggs x 2

250g golden caster sugar

120ml flavourless oil- I use an everyday rapeseed oil

3 fat bananas, overripe and mashed

2 tablespoons natural yogurt. Or our cream. Heck, at a push go for milk.

1 tsp vanilla extract

400g plain flour

1 tsp baking soda

2/3 tsp Ground cinnamon (I sometimes just chuck a whole tsp in as I adore cinnamon)

1/3 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp table salt

1oog toasted walnuts, or pecans, chopped fine

Oven Temperature: 160 degrees C in a fan oven. 180 degrees C if not. Gas Mark 4. Pre heated, of course. Don’t skimp on this with baking, its the kiss of death.

Method:

  1. Prepare the tin and preheat your oven. Always start this way. Many a bake is ruined by skipping these steps. Now to the fun part. Begin by whisking the eggs and sugar. Get them thick and golden in colour. If you are fortunate enough to have a stand mixer, get it going, make a drink, turn the radio up and forget about it for a while. Think 80’s hair- volume volume volume. Like Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding dress.
  2. 2. Once you have a thick glossy egg and sugar mixture, start to pour in the oil. You need this in a jug, as above, we you need to control the pour. Think pathetic trickle rather than a quick pour, and keep the mixer going, the whisk on slow. See my illustration below:

3. Prepare the rest of the ingredients. Mash the bananas. Grab your yogurt or cream, and the vanilla. Add to the wet ingredients, and mix till combined.


4. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together, and add to the bowl with the wet mixture.

5. Toast the nuts. Chop them finely and add to the mix with the flour mixture.
Fold it all together with a spatula. Go clockwise around the edge of the bowl and cut down the middle. Turn the bowl 90 degrees between mixes. When it’s all combined, pour the batter into a prepared baking tin.

I would recommend holding back a few nuts back and sprinkle a few on the top. It looks great.

Bake in the oven. It will take anywhere from an hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. The old skewer test really is still the best way to check.

Et voila. The gold standard of banana bread.

Deep, moist, delicious.

See what I mean about adding the few nuts on the top? Looks great, and isn’t it always so much more tempting when you can see what’s in there. And I don’t know, if one of your friends has a nut allergy it may warn them. So it could be a life saver.

*Disclaimer- this banana bread isn’t guaranteed to save lives.

So here you go. My secret to perfect banana bread. I hope it joins you on road trips, to pic nics, to coffee mornings, to friends for tea, wherever you go. Smeared in Nutella or peanut butter, on its own, smothered in cream cheese frosting- how you enjoy it is up to you! I just hope you enjoy it.

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