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Banana bread – a traditional recipe but make it 2020 lockdown tradition

The image shows a loaf of banana bread fresh from the oven, still in it's cooking tin. Ready and willing to go onto the cooling rack in just a few moments.

Ah, it starts with that second wave of a certain deadly virus, that might require everyone to be locked down again? Like Christmas not starting until everything begins smelling like the M&S Mandarin, Cinnamon & Clove room spray; Lockdown doesn’t truly start until the smell of Banana Bread starts wafting out of the kitchen.

So re-install Zoom and Microsoft Teams on your computer, put away your formal business clothes and get ready to speak to as few people a day as possible – it’s time for a traditional lockdown treat of banana bread!. Make sure you have some well-ripened bananas that are attracting a few flies (but hopefully not really) and you know they’re ready.

Ingredients

A note for those who do not use metric, there is really only one weight here and the rest is table/teaspoons and whole items. Therefore, 140g is 4.93oz (so just round up to 5) and self-raising flour is self-rising flour in the USA. However, Self-rising has salt added to it. So if you want to re-create self-raising flour, add an extra 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder (on top of what the recipe calls for) to plain flour. Adapted from: Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen

  • 140g soft unsalted butter or baking margarine
  • 140g caster sugar (I’ve used granulated in a pinch before, works fine!)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp baking power
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • small handful of oats (optional)
  • a 2lb loaf tin or baking receptacle of your choice and a wire rack (thankfully you can re-use these bad boys)

Method

Step One

Heat oven to 180°C standard, 160°C fan, Gas Mark 4 or 350°F standard/320°F fan.

Step Two

Cream the butter and sugar either in a mixer or by hand until well-combined and delicious like the most sinful thing you could possibly eat. Like, you wonder how it would be just to eat the whole bowl of buttered sugar (Or sugared butter), leave it here and have a wee lie down after.

Slowly add the beaten eggs, ensuring well mixed before adding more and when done add a tablespoon or so of the flour. Let sit for a minute. Use this time to mash your bananas into a nice paste.

Step Three

Add the remaining flour, trying where possible to not let it explode into a cloud of dust that makes your coughs taste of bread. Add the teaspoon of baking powder and tip in the bananas. Now, fold them together. This is where you can optionally add a small handful of oats to the mix if you like. I’ve only started doing it recently.

If you don’t know what means exactly, it means you use a flat spatula or spoon to lift what is at the bottom of the bowl and place it on top of the bowl. Next, a gentle fold to incorporate the ingredients rather than forcibly mixing together. If you’re still struggling, here’s a video.

Step Four

Line the baking weapon if your choice with my preferred method: greaseproof baking paper or in a pinch more butter. I feel the butter method makes the cake really greasy and likely to fall apart when trying to extract. Invest in some paper.

Tip the whole mix in and bake for about 40-50 minutes. Sprinkle on a few more porridge oats, that’s how I got the look in the picture at the top. Now, the time is a guide as I’ve had loaves using this exact recipe that have taken 90 minutes before. Is it wobbly? Put it back in. Is it burned? You went too far! If the top of the cake is a nice golden brown your next step is to test it. Use a skewer or a toothpick: You should be able to put in into the centre of the bread and have it come out clean if the toothpick comes out covered in your mixture? It’s not ready, pop it back in and check every 5-10 mins.

Step Five

Allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes minimum. Then remove to a wire rack and allow it to cool. Don’t tuck in straight away, more time to cool means it will retain it’s shape better.

As for storage, it needs to be cool. Cover the top and bottom with clean kitchen paper/roll, wrap tightly in foil and pop in the fridge. The paper stops the bread going too moist and the fridge is just preferred in my opinion. I’ve had it last 3 days in there, but it has never survived that long for me to conduct any shelf life experiments.

Happy baking, soon you’ll be buying bananas not to eat but just to casually forget and be like “oh dear, guess I’ll need to make banana bread…”

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