Most people seem to have a banana bread recipe up his or her sleeve. It’s the baked good people eat when they want to pretend they’re not eating cake. There are just enough ‘wholesome’ connotations to make this an acceptable breakfast food, particularly evident in our insistence on referring to it as Banana ‘Bread’; I am sure that this is much more about the psychology of guilt than it is about alliteration. I wholeheartedly join the ranks in scoffing obscene chunks of this stuff alongside hot tea or cold milk. It is healthy for the comfort of the mind if not, ultimately, the body. The use of bananas in this chunky, unadorned loaf cake creates such a moist, biscuit flavoured crumb, flecked with the dark, fibrous innards of the cooked fruit. Banana bread is accommodating, if not welcoming, to the ‘homemaking’ family of spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and ginger and sits hot in its tin for a long time before it finally cools. Once it is baked it does nothing but sit and stew in its own dampness, yielding and moist, losing its hot crust and gaining a soft sweetness.
Banana Bread, much like brownies, is a well-practiced item in my baking repertoire. When macarons or choux pastry go awry it is Banana Bread I turn towards to soothe my baking ego, it is something I can claim concrete experience in. I’ve made light versions with white flour and caster sugar, I’ve made treacly versions with brown sugar and maple syrup, I’ve made versions with peanut butter (far too dry), roasted pecans, the wrong amount of chocolate chips (added too many, sank to the bottom, soggy mess) and the right amount of chocolate chips, I’ve made Vegan versions, gluten free versions, I’ve made it with oil, with butter, with ripe bananas and with bananas that are by no means ripe enough. I’ve made iced versions, mini versions and huge loaves. I’ve made a lot of Banana Bread, it never seems to get old.
I had such success with my Lemon Meringue Cloud Cakes that I wanted to play more with Greek yoghurt in baking. I have no interest in low fat baking, I have an interest in light, moist baking and the brand of thick, dense, unctuous Greek yoghurt I’ve found in New Zealand (Cyclops in case your curious) cries out to be utilised beyond the confines of a bowl of strawberries. I used yoghurt in this Banana Bread as well as wholemeal, organic flour, brown sugar and heaped teaspoons of cinnamon and ginger to lend this cake a dark, toffee coloured warmth. I spent the day in the kitchen, staring out at the brooding sky and its misty, persistent rain and felt overwhelmingly grateful that I could clatter about the kitchen, baking this comforting cake and chain-drinking teapots of chai tea. If I’m in need of a hug and there is no one appropriate to hand I make Banana Bread and eat a hefty (sometimes buttered) chunk whilst clutching my hot mug close to my chest.
Cinnamon Spiced Banana Bread
½ cup oil (Rice Bran, Canola, Sunflower or anything else bland)
½ cup Light Brown Sugar
2 Large eggs
½ cup Caster Sugar
¼ cup Greek yoghurt (heaped)
3 ripe mashed Bananas
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Cinnamon (heaped)
1 tsp Ginger (heaped)
1 ¼ cup Wholemeal Flour
¼ tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda (heaped)
- Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 C. Find a large loaf tin and line with baking paper. (The batter could even be divided into muffin cases or tray baked)
- Cream the oil, and sugar together until pale and smooth, adding the eggs one at a time
- Fold in Greek yoghurt, banana, spices, vanilla and salt.
- Mix the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and stir into the wet batter.
- If using a loaf pan fill to about two thirds
- Bake for one hour, checking occasionally to see if the top needs covering with foil. Its cooked once the top is firm and a skewer or knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.