Tag Archives: banana bread

Banana loaf experiments & my social media embargo…

This weekend I’m doing something I haven’t done for a very long time…I’m going on holiday. I’m not going anywhere tropical, just an hour or so down the road to a country cottage near to where a good friend is getting married, but I intend to fully sign out from the (cyber) world and attempt to leave my email account(s) unchecked, my Twitter account(s) abandoned and my Facebook status un-updated 🙂 This may not sound like such a big thing, unless like me you are a social media/internet addict! Last year my boss bought me Grace Dent’s book ‘How to Leave Twitter: My Time as Queen of the Universe and Why This Must Stop’ it had me laughing out loud, not only at her wit and her insightful ponderings on others’ Twitter behaviour but at the depths of her Twitter addiction. A year on, I wonder what my reaction would be if I read it again and whether I would cringe at the similarities to my own social media tendencies 🙂 But hey ho, as a parting shot, I thought I’d post a blog about this week’s baking adventures. 

The monthly Book and Bake club I go to had rolled around again, this month we were meant to have read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin and have baked a Mary Berry recipe. I failed in a big way on the reading front and didn’t even get as far as buying the book, so to compensate, I baked 4 Mary Berry banana cakes! This may seem a bit excessive but I saw it as a great excuse to a) use up some bananas left over from my latest stint volunteering at FoodCycle Cambridge and b) trial some new recipes.

Here’s the line up… (left to right – banana & honey tealoaf, banana & chocolate chip loaf, gluten free banana, date & walnut loaf, banana & cherry tealoaf)

and again… (clockwise from top right – gluten free banana, date & walnut loaf, banana & cherry tealoaf, banana & honey tealoaf, banana & chocolate chip loaf)

I found all of the recipes online. First up was the banana & chocolate chip loaf 

My chocolate chips gravitated to the bottom of the cake, which however annoying, wasn’t detrimental to the taste. It was amazingly moist and great for the sweet toothed among us 🙂

Next up was the banana & honey teabread, which I discovered on The Goddess Kitchen’s blog…

Now for some reason, my banana & honey teabread didn’t turn out anything like Maria’s pictures. It was the squishiest cake/pudding I’ve ever made and even though I cooked it for 1 hour 30 minutes, longer than the recipe recommended, it showed no sign of setting so I gave in and took it out of the oven, turned my back for a second and when I looked round it had sunk! I was calling this one the failure cake, however, it turned out to be the favourite for a lot of the people who tasted all four! I have a feeling I was over generous with my honey measurements…here’s to happy accidents 🙂

The next one was a bit of an experiment for me as I’ve never ventured into gluten free baking. I stocked up on gluten free flour and baking powder…

and set about making a gluten free version of this banana, date & walnut loaf, which I found on this blog ‘Gardening for Lawyers’

It wasn’t as squidgy as some banana breads I’ve made and eaten in the past but it was absolutely delicious and definitely my favourite! I’ve since made another 2 loaves…

The last experiment was Mary’s banana, date & cherry loaf, which I found posted here on an online forum (see, the internet is a magical thing:)…

It was a classicly yummy banana bread but in my opinion would have benefited from more cherries. Bright red, glace cherries are a guilty pleasure of mine! 

The Book and Bake ladies soon forgave my book reading failure when they found out that they had 4 cakes to try instead of 1!…

So, that’s it from me for at least 4 days…if you see/hear anything from me, I have failed my social media embargo experiment!

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Banana and pecan fudge loaf…

What do you get if you cross a deliciously moist banana bread recipe with a bag of chewy toffees?…a gooey, moist banana and pecan fudge loaf…that’s what!…

I was drawn to this delicious sounding recipe whilst flicking through my ‘Good Food 101 Teatime treats’ book, a veritable goldmine of baking porn.

To make it you’ll need…

150g chewy toffees (recipe called for Werther’s Original chewy toffees but I just used Sainsburys own brand)

2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 200g peeled weight)

2 eggs, beaten

100g butter, melted

100g toffee yoghurt

100g light muscovado sugar

200g self-raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

100g pecan halves, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line a 2lb loaf tin or if you’re lucky like me and have a little silicone number then just get it out of the cupboard in readiness.

Chop the toffees into small chunks. The recipe suggested using wetted scissors but as these are another thing that I need to add to my kitchen essentials shopping list, I just used a sharp knife to chop my toffee, with only a few floor casualties.

Mix the bananas, eggs, butter, toffee yoghurt and sugar together well.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and fold in. Add ¾ of the pecan nuts and ½ the chopped toffees and stir before piling the mixture into the tin. Finally sprinkle over the remaining nuts and toffee…so wrong it’s right…

Pop in the oven for 50-55 minutes. I highly recommend standing your loaf tin on a baking tray as this cake has a tendency to erupt everywhere et voila…

Although my loaf had risen perfectly and was springy I found it quite difficult to decide whether it was totally ready due to the vast amount of volcanic toffee pockets throughout! I stuck to 55 minutes and it was cooked but extremely moist inside and would maybe have benefited from a couple more minutes.

Once out of the oven you have to withstand the torture of letting it cool in the tin before you’re allowed to have a taste. It made my whole house smell divine and drew a steady stream of housemates to the kitchen in search of tasty treats…

Owing to the moistness of the loaf it wasn’t the easiest of cakes to cut neatly but to be honest I don’t think anyone minded as it was demolished pretty promptly. I think it was always going to be a winner…I’m already a big fan of banana bread but have never in my life added toffees to a cake…but there’s a first time for everything and now I fear there is no going back!

I think photo’s, however rudimentary, say it all…

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Banana bread baking…to accompany fancy dress-clad festival frolics in field…

It’s festival season again! This year I’m branching out from my usual jaunt to the Big Chill in an attempt to find a smaller, independent festival to switch my allegiances to. The festival of choice for 2011 is Playgroup, which promises fun and frolics in a field with zero arrogance and the added bonus of some woodland animal themed fancy dress…sounds ace!

Now, whilst some people may be sorting out their tent and wellies in preparation for such an event, I’ve been busying myself with making my mouse costume but more importantly, trying to decide what I can bake that will withstand being packed into tupperware and dragged across a field on a trolley 🙂 Last year’s plum traybake with cheesecake ripple withstood the challenge and went down a treat so I’ve got a lot to live up to.

I think I’ve come up with the perfect solution…I recently rediscovered my copy of ‘Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights’ cook book by Sophie Dahl, who I’m quite open about being both horrendously annoyed by and supremely envious of. However, something I can’t begrudge her is that she knows how to make a mean banana bread…

and…it’s soooo easy to make!

You need…

75g butter, softened

4 ripe bananas, mashed

200g soft brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 pinch of salt

170g plain flour (or spelt or whatever)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a 2lb/900g loaf tin.

Mix together the mashed banana, butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract.

Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt and finally the flour.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 1 hour (I always check after about 45 minutes by sticking a skewer or sharp knife into the centre of the cake…if it comes out clean, it’s ready). When you’re happy that it’s ready remove it from the oven and leave it to cool.

I’ve made other banana breads before but I have to say, this is definitely one of the best. Even better when you follow Sophie’s advice to slice it, toast it and serve it with butter…

I know what I’ll be doing on Thursday night in amongst trying to find my sleeping bag, novelty wigs, waterproof jacket, bin bags and mouse ears…baking a couple of loaves of delicious banana bread…they should at least see us through the journey! 🙂

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