banana bread – The One

banana bread

When I posted a picture of this banana bread on social media this weekend I received a bonkers amount of comments. Loads of you sent me recipes for your favourite banana bread recipes. It seems I’m not the only one who is on a quest to find The One when it comes to banana bread. I’ve spent years trying a new recipe every time the bananas in my fruit bowl start to get beyond the stage anyone will eat them. I’ve had varying levels of success but when I tried this recipe from The Violet Cakes Cookbook it was the best…so far.

It isn’t just a winner in terms of flavour, it uses minimal equipment and is easy enough for children to make with very little help.

Banana bread is one of those things that sounds really healthy. I’ve tried all sorts of lower sugar, lower fat recipes but this is so much better. And as far as I see it (and I hope you do too), a homemade cake made with organic flour and sugar is healthier than a supermarket gluten-free or low fat cake. Some recipes do massively cut the sugar and use all sorts of things to make the cakes low fat, low sugar or gluten free but this is more traditional, simple and delicious. And I’ve come to a stage where I’d rather have a slice of this once a week than a slice of one of the uber healthy ones each day.

Banana bread freezes brilliantly – and that acts as a good way to stop those of us with poor will power from eating a slice every time we pass the cake tin. Just wait for it to cool and slice it. Wrap the slices and then freeze them. They can be toasted from frozen under the grill (broiler). I’ll leave it up to you up you butter it with some salty butter (I would).

a few final notes

All the liquids in the recipe can be weighed. So you won’t need to dirty a bunch of measuring cups or jugs. And you’ll be more accurate. Just set the bowl on your digital scales and press zero before adding each ingredient to the other ingredients.

If you don’t bake regularly, be sure to check that your baking powder and bicarb (baking soda) are in date. If they aren’t you won’t get the required rise to your cake.

Where I live in Cheshire we’re surrounded by rapeseed fields so I use Calvia, our local rapeseed oil. The lovely thing about rapeseed is that the plants not only produce this heart and brain friendly oil (which is lower in saturated fat than olive oil and can be used at high temperatures), but the flowers encourage bees. Rapeseed is known as canola oil in the US – just be sure to buy a non-gmo one if you’re over there as most canola oil is modified in the US.

This cake is made in a loaf tin but I’ve also made it in a shallower brownie tin – just cut the cooking time by about a third if you’re making it in a shallower, wider tin.

To make your banana bread

5-6 medium sized very ripe bananas – the skin should be pretty brown

150g (just under three quarters of a cup) rapeseed or mild olive oil (in the US rapeseed is sold as canola – be sure to buy the non gmo stuff though – see note above)

200g (just over a cup) dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

75g (a third of a cup) plain full fat yoghurt

210g (1 and three quarter cups) plain flour (all purpose) – I’ve made this with half regular flour and half wholewheat or spelt plain flour with no issue

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe, along with a few of the ingredients, through the UK and US Amazon links below. Just click on the link and you can add the item straight into your Amazon cart to buy later. If a price is shown in dollars and you are in the UK, it will take you through to the Amazon UK item in pounds once you put it in your cart. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. You can also buy my other bits of essential kitchen equipment through my this post.

To make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) or, if you have a fan or convection oven use 160°C (310°F).
  2. Use parchment to line a 23 x 12cm (9 by 5 inch) loaf pan. If you want your cake to be shallower you can use a 23cm (9 inch) square tin that is at least 5cm (2 inches) deep. I line my pan by putting it on the parchment then cutting a diagonal to each corner. Then I put the paper inside and press it into place. You don’t need to rub the parchment with oil or butter.lining-tin
  3. Put your flour, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) into a large bowl. Use a hand whisk to mix it all together.
  4. In a separate bowl, peel your bananas (hold one back to decorate with) and mash them to a pulp. I use a potato masher but you could use a fork. This is an excellent job for small children.
  5. Once the bananas are mashed, set the bowl (with the bananas still in it) on your scale, zero the scale and add your your oil, yoghurt and sugar. Zero the scales after each ingredient is added before you weigh the next one. Add your vanilla. Whisk these wet ingredients together until they are just combined.
  6. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk together until they are just combined – over mixing will give you a tough cake.
  7. Use a silicone spatula to scrape the batter into your prepared tin. Give the tin a shake so that the mixture flows evenly into the corners then use a sharp knife to slice your remaining banana into three long strips. Lay the strips on top of the cake (see photo) before putting it in the oven.
  8. Ovens vary but I cook mine for 60-75 minutes in a loaf tin or 45-55 minutes in a square tin.
  9. Check yours 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time by putting a metal skewer into the middle of the cake. If there is any mixture sticking to the skewer, put the cake back into the oven and check it every 5 minutes until the skewer comes out clean. Your cake should be a dark golden brown on top.
  10. Once your cake is ready, take the tin out of the oven and leave the cake to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before lifting it out and leaving it to cool on a rack for about half an hour.
  11. Keep leftover cake, wrapped in parchment in a cake tin. There is no need to put it in the fridge. I believe it will keep for about 5 days but mine has never lasted that long! You can also cut your cake in half, or into individual servings and freeze it, wrapped in foil, for another day.

I’d love to see what you end up with, so remember to share this on my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter when you make it. Tag it #ystcook so I can see!