I LOVE banana bread. LOVE it. I was into banana bread before I was into 'food' as a whole. And I've baked gazillions of them. Many times, I didn't exactly follow a recipe. Still, they tend to taste at least good.
For me, banana bread with nuts can never fail. Never, ever taste bad. On the flip side, a well-made banana bread without nuts don't really excite me.
Rules of thumb = make sure they have nuts and serve them warm.
This is obviously a matter of personal preference. Once upon a time, I was on the bus to Indooroopilly shopping center to meet Charlie. I messaged him in advance asking him to buy me a slice of banana bread. The condition was that it had to have nuts.
And would you believe, there was no store/cafe/eatery that sold lone slices of banana bread WITH NUTS? I initially specified walnuts but after a few rejected attempts, I told him that ANY NUTS WOULD DO.
Still, no luck. And whilst he is not the best at running errands and finding things, I cannot believe that so many banana breads out there are baked WITHOUT nuts. The moral of this story is that maybe I'm the weird one.
Going back to what I said before... don't get me wrong about the experimental side of baking. You can't just throw together some mashed banana and flour and expect it to come out delicious every single time. You need to have some idea of what properties you like in your banana bread and research what ingredients or steps bring out those properties.
For me, I like my banana bread to be very banana-ish, moist, dense and yes, full of nuts.
Some people like airy or light. Some people like the idea of coconut.
I've tried a few different styles and I maintain my preference. A couple of months back, I baked a light coconut milk banana bread (no butter or oil; all the fat content came from the coconut milk) and it was also lovely but not a definitive favorite.
One of my most treasured online food blogs Not Quite Nigella actually hosted a Banana Bread Bakeoff where people submitted their top notch banana bread recipes. I read through many of those, picking out recipes that contained interesting ingredients e.g. sour cream, spices or white chocolate.
Whilst I could have picked out any of those to make for my own banana bread entry, I thought it was better to stick to something I know I would love. Simple, dense and moist. With nuts.
I chose to follow Nigella Lawson's banana bread recipe from "How to be a Domestic Godess". I did leave out the rum-soaked raisins because I'm not a fan of raisins. I'm sorry if that was the whole 'point' of this banana bread but I have to say that my end result, WITHOUT the raisins was still beautiful. I made up for it by adding more walnuts :).
Finally, I added a slight twist to the original loaf by coating my banana bread with a passionfruit glaze.
The recipe below is halved from the original. From my experience, if you halve the recipe for a full loaf of anything, you generally end up with just the right amount for a mini loaf pan. Similarly, double my recipe for the full-sized counterpart.
Nigella's Banana Bread
Makes 1 mini loaf
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour (I used a tbsp of wholemeal flour instead of the tbsp of plain flour only because I had some spare and it didn't negatively affect the taste/texture so that's something for you to consider if you want to substitute flour and sneak in extra fire)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg (min weight 59g)
- 2 small, very ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Butter and flour the inside of your mini loaf tin.2. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius (170 if you're doing a full loaf. I lower the temperature for mini loaves).
3. Put the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and combine well.4. In a large bowl, beat melted butter and sugar till well combined.
5. Beat in the egg and then, mashed bananas.
6. Stir in walnuts and vanilla extract.7. Add the flour mix 1/3 at a time, stirring after each bit
Note: I used a standing mixer for steps 4-7. You can easily do this by hand though.8. Scrape the mixture into your prepared loaf tin. It should be quite thick but still flow into the shape of the tin. You may need to use your spatula to help the mixture into the corners and even out the top.9. Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 45min (1hr to 1hr 15min for full-sized loaf). When it's ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Remember that with banana loaves (especially ones with a high banana content), the toothpick my never come out completely clean because of the banana itself.10. Leave in the pan on a rack to cool. Let it cool to room temperature before glazing or cutting it because when the bread is hot from the oven, it will crumble upon slicing. I would simply reheat a slice that I want to eat to make it warm again (15 sec on high in microwave would do it)
Makes enough to coat 1 mini loaf
- Juice and seeds of 2 small passionfruits
- around 1/2 cup of icing sugar, sifted and lump-free
1. Add the icing sugar gradually to the passionfruit until you get your desired consistency. You want it to be sort of sticky and thick enough to coat the loaf without being absorbed in.
2. Make sure the loaf is cool before you attempt to coat it. When it comes to coating, just drizzle over the top and leave to cook.
Note: Whilst the passionfruit seeds weren't too much of a distraction, I can understand why you might prefer to use the juice alone. If this is the case, just strain the pulp through a sieve in before adding the icing sugar.
The glaze adds a nice gloss to your loaf. I read about using passionfruit on banana bread somewhere online and the combination pulls off extremely well. I imagine that if I used a passionfruit glaze on a coconut-banana loaf, it would be like a tropical heaven!
I like banana bread in thick slices served warm alone or with vanilla ice-cream. These are perfect for beginners and are so rewarding when you smell them baking. I imagine that if you leave the banana loaf covered in foil in the fridge overnight, it would become more moist and dense overnight (same principle as mudcakes). It's a shame I can't test that theory out for myself because my loaf didn't even last 20 minutes! In fact 2 slices disappeared before I even got the glaze on.