I’m no baker. My first baking experience at school was a disastrous Victoria sponge which more closely resembled a pancake. More recently I’ve fought with a paleo coconut and chocolate cake.
On Sunday afternoon I had an hour to spare and saw a hand of black bananas in the kitchen and decided to just make a couple of banana breads to take in to work. A quick Google brought up Brilliant Banana Loaf on the BBC Good Food web site. In typical Justacook Fashion I scanned through the recipe and dived in. Let’s face it banana bread is just about the simplest thing to cook but can be either too sweet or soggy.
The basis of the recipe begins with creaming 140g of sugar and 140g of softened butter. This is where my story begins. I have about 100g of chilled butter and some frozen butter…and not a lot of patience. I want to make two loaves because I’ve got loads of bananas and so all the quantities need doubling and so I chopped away to break it into smaller pieces. Then I put the bowl in the microwave on a low setting to soften it up.
After going too early with the food mixer I did a bit of creaming with a wooden spoon using Auntie Ruby’s mixing bowls. She was a magnificent baker who had the good sense to write the weights of her bowls on their bottoms. I remember standing at her side regularly in the early 1970s waiting for the chance to run a finger round the cake mix at the end. When I went to university I was frequently packed off by her with her signature ginger cake and rice cakes.
The next part of the recipe is to add the same weight in self raising flour and a teaspoon of baking powder. As I rooted around in cupboards looking for ingredients I came across the coconut flour I had for the paleo recipe. I thought a bit of coconut flavour would go well with the banana but I would need some additional raising agent so I used 100g of coconut flour and added an extra teaspoon of baking powder while making up the rest of the 280g with self-raising flour – or to be more specific gluten-free self-raising flour. So far only the sugar has been exactly the ingredient in the recipe.
The recipe then asks for the flour to be gradually added along four eggs and with the mashed banana. True to form I discover at this point that I have three large eggs – not four. Also decide to add five small bananas rather than the four in the recipe. I grease 2lb tins and use a cake liner paper and then have a look at cooking times. At this point I see a stream off criticism of the so-called “brilliant” banana bread. There seems no doubt that no-one has been successful cooking it for 30 minutes and the minimum is 50 minutes – a pretty grave error for any recipe – and a good proportion say their results never baked through! With a heavy heart my mix went into the oven.
It rose well and I went for 30 minutes at 180 degrees and 20 minutes at 160 degrees and I turned the tins when I changed the temperature. When I took it out a knife came out clean but it had a lot of movement. I was not sure that it was cooked until I cut into it. I then found I’d made the best banana bread I’ve ever had. Its not too sweet and the coconut with the banana is delicious. The colour is a lovely golden brown. It’s a nice moist cake consistency too.
Whether I can repeat it is a different matter…