a.k.a. "When Kitchen Experimentation Goes Right"
Today, I decided to try and bake a banana loaf for the first time ever. I have tried a few different people's banana bread recently - with chocolate chips and without - and every single bite I have taken of every single different type of banana loaf, I have thought to myself 'I must try to make this one day'. So today was that day.
Having heard that banana bread is quite a forgiving type of cake, in that you can't really mess it up by putting in too much or too little of a certain ingredient, I decided to do without a recipe (I didn't see any that I liked 100%) and just have a go myself. And the results were completely delicious! So sweet, and moist, and banana-y, with a crisp sugar topping - everything I wanted my banana bread to be (and everything David wanted it to be too!).
I had always thought that the bananas used for a banana loaf had to be old, with blackened skin, but as you can see from this picture, I only had one old banana - the others were pretty normal bananas that I would usually eat as they are. And the loaf tasted great. So I think that really, while you can use older bananas for this recipe, it's not actually necessary.
Also, I used a bar of chocolate and chopped it into chunks rather than buying a packet of chocolate chips - it's cheaper and also lets you dictate the size of the chunks (I think randomly-sized chocolate chips are the true sign of a home-baked cake!).
So I'm going to share my recipe with you. The only thing I would maybe do differently next time is add some bicarbonate of soda to make it rise more. I used self-raising flour (one of the things I didn't like about some of the recipes I saw was the amount of different raising agents in them - surely it shouldn't be that difficult?) and it was fine, but if you wanted your loaf to rise a bit more, then it seems that added raising agents might just be necessary.
This is how I did it:
125g caster sugar (actually I used granulated, but I know you're supposed to use caster sugar in baking, so....)
125g butter, melted (plus extra to grease tin)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium egg, beaten
3 medium bananas, roughly mashed
100g milk chocolate (chopped roughly into chunks)
190g self-raising flour
1 tbsp light brown soft sugar
Pre-heat oven to 170ºC. Grease and line a 10x20cm loaf tin.
Mix the caster sugar, melted butter and vanilla extract together. Add the beaten egg , banana and chocolate chunks and mix well. Sieve in the flour, mixing well as you go.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top. Bake in the pre-heated oven for one hour, or until a skewer comes out almost clean. Leave to cool, then cool further on a wire rack.
This recipe has gone down so well, we can hardly stop ourselves from going back for "just one more slice". I want to make this loaf every day now, it's that good (and easy!), but something tells me we'd both end up the size of houses if we were to have daily access to banana bread that good! If you're looking for a winner to take into a bake sale at work, or simply to impress your friends when they pop in for a coffee, this one will fit the bill, no doubt about it.