Best Banana Bread

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This week I started a new job. In preparation for said job I went out last weekend and purchased bumper packs of Nurofen, tights and bananas.

I have a bit of a banana superstition. Along with the a couple of pro plus, their consumption was my pre- exam routine for a long time. A banana-less exam was beyond contemplation. Last Sunday, racked with that familiar calm-before-the-storm feeling, buying bananas just felt like the right thing to do.

If I didn’t have a banana problem before, then I certainly did when I arrived home last night. Foggy minded and investigating the food in my kitchen, I looked over to see the bumper pack of bananas- untouched and betrayed- lying on top of the microwave.

I was troubled for precisely five seconds before resolving to make banana bread: affirmation- if ever I needed it- that there aren’t many problems that can’t be solved with cake.

I’m sure that many people will have tried banana bread that is just ok. This recipe turns the potentially bland into something quite exciting; its secret ingredients are honey, apricot jam, cinnamon and nutmeg.

I hadn’t intended to come home and bake at all but banana bread is one of the easiest things you can make. I even lost track of the instructions in my weary state and it still turned out great- it really is foolproof.

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(pre oven)

This bread has a real depth of flavour and will be great toasted- this is how I was served the only memorable banana bread I have ever eaten (in Australia). It has the same sticky quality as gingerbread and therefore isn’t very crumbly. That’s quite unusual for banana bread- but both qualities are fine in my book. And the best thing about banana bread is that if anything, it improves with age.

I live by myself so am constantly looking for people to palm my baking off to. Having a glut of baked goods is a genuine- and continual- problem for me. I’ve only been there a week but already my mind is pondering when I can first take cake to work without seeming like (a) I didn’t read the job description or (b) just a massive suck up. Answers on a postcard please.

Banana Bread (adapted from kingarthurflour.com)

113g unsalted butter, at room temperature

125g brown sugar (dark or light)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon salt

350g mashed, ripe banana (about 5 medium bananas)

65g apricot jam or marmalade</strong

85g honey

2 large eggs

270g plain flour

60g chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line or grease a 9×5 in loaf tin.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until smooth.

3. Mix in the banana, jam, honey and eggs.

4. Finally, mix in the flour and walnuts. Pour into the prepared tin.

5. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Remember that the cake will continue to cook a bit in the tin after it comes out of the oven. About 20 minutes in to the cooking time you may like to place tin foil over the cake to stop it from browning too much.

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