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Banana & Cardamom Bread


Curiously, we seem to have a banana mountain at home at the moment. It’s the downside of fickle, faddish teenage boys. One minute they’re eating a dozen a day each. (I say ‘eating’. I think I mean ‘inhaling’.) The next, bananas are foodstuff non grata. Me, I hate waste, so can’t bring myself to throw out the blackening squishy fruit. Instead, I’ve been experimenting with banana bread. This recipe is still being adapted, but give it a try anyway as the flavours are lovely. Bear in mind bananas are sticky and solidifying: there’s a limit to how much you can get in a loaf and still have a good rise and soft crumb. If your bananas are larger, only use 3 or add an extra tablespoon of flour. If you’ve only got plain flour, use it with half a teaspoon of bicarb of soda rather than baking powder. If you can’t get your hands on ground cardamom, use the seeds from whole pods, smashed up a bit in a mortar and pestle. (Or use something entirely different, like cinnamon, ginger or allspice.)

6floz vegetable oil (you can use light olive oil, but not the extra virgin stuff)
4 very ripe bananas (small-medium)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
5oz caster sugar
generous tablespoon of honey
9oz self-raising flour
(1/2 teaspoon of bicarb if using plain flour)
heaped teaspoon ground coriander

1. Preheat oven to 170*C (Fan 160), gas mark 3. Lightly grease and line a 2lb loaf tin, or 2x 1lb loaf tins, or 8 muffin cups (In the photo, I’ve used some aluminium mugs I found in a camping shop. They bake beautifully.)
2. Mash together the bananas, vanilla and a pinch of salt. You can do this in a mixer, using the beating arm, not the whisk.
3. Beat in the oil, then the eggs one at a time, then the sugar and honey.
4. Beat in the flour and cardamom (and bicarb if using).
5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin or muffin cups. Pop on a baking tray and bake for 50-60 mins for one large loaf, about 40 mins for two smaller loaves or 25-30 mins for 8 large muffins. The top will be lovely and dark brown, with hefty cracks across the top.

This loaf improves with age (unlike the original bananas), so put it in an airtight container and try not to gobble it all up at once. Or allow teenage boys to do so. (And they will, whatever their current position on bananas.)




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