When I want to bake, but can’t necessarily be bothered with anything elaborate I always find myself turning back to Mary Berry’s recipes. This is no insult. Mary’s recipes are easy to follow, foolproof and utterly delicious.
This banana loaf recipe also happens to follow her classic all-in-one method, so takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, which really isn’t much when the result is so moreish. It has to be the best banana loaf recipe I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot) – it would also be easy to make this vegan, with oil / soya spread and extra banana.
I also like the fact that Mary’s recipes are easy to adapt to your own palette, unlike some more complex recipes in other baking books. I adapt this recipe by switching up the sugar element: 100g golden caster with 75g dark brown muscovado, which adds a lovely toffee richness to the cake. I also add 1tsp of cinnamon (heaped!) and ½ tsp of all spice, as well as a generous scattering of chia seeds and some lovely cocoa nibs. This is as much to add texture as it is taste – as for the spices, it’s a no brainer.
A top tip, which I picked up at a baking course I did for my birthday last year at the lovely Braxted Park, is to butter and flour your loaf tin. No need to fuss about with parchment or greaseproof paper (which I always manage to mess up), it comes out just as easily (make sure you’re generous with your butter/oil) and helps the loaf get a lovely crispy outside.
If you have a fan oven, you can set a timer for less than the 60 minutes baking time (I go for 40), to check the cake isn’t browning too quickly. If it is already as golden as you’d like it to be on top, then take it out and cover loosely with foil. This stops the cake catching but doesn’t stop it cooking.
Now, you could leave it as it comes out the tin, a delicious loaf cake that could just about pass for being suitable for breakfast. Or, if you have some extra over-ripe bananas, you could try one of my favourite (and slightly decadent) toppings: salted caramelised banana slices. It is rather lovely with some cream cheese frosting too – you could also make a yoghurt icing, if you prefer.
A delicious treat, perfect for sharing – or not; it keeps well for five days in a tin.
See my previous blog post for the full ingredients and method.
For the salted caramelised banana topping
1) Slice up one or two bananas, on a diagonal slant (not necessary, I just like it).
2) Melt about 25g butter in a frying pan, with a good pinch of Maldon Sea Salt and some light brown muscovado sugar.
3) Place the banana slices in the pan. Cook until they caramelise, basting regularly with the saucy caramel.
4) Spoon mixture on top of the cooled loaf (see below) OR spoon into a bowl and serve per slice (see above!).
5) If you are making icing, put this on first and wait till the bananas are fully cooled then swirl on top.