First, a disclaimer. This is not in fact bread, it's cake. There's no way around it, given the amount of sugar and sweet spices. But I call it bread because when it comes to food, I like to delude myself. And I like a little alliteration too. 'Banana cake' just doesn't have that pleasing repetition of the letter 'b' that 'banana bread' does. But if you want to call it cake, by all means do. I have no problem with that.
Second, pre-heat your oven to 175 Celsius (that's 350 Farenheit).
This is easy. I mean, it's so easy my four-year-old son could do it. I won't let him though because I like to lick the bowl when nobody's watching. So send your kids out to play, or if it's raining, like it does a lot here, put on some Scooby Doo or whatever will keep them occupied for the next 20 minutes. Then put your pinny on and get ready.
Here's what you'll need. It's not much.
- Big bowl
- Measuring jug
- Wooden spoon
A whisk would be good but it's not totally necessary. And that's it! Oh, and a loaf or muffin tin, depending on which way you want to go with that.
- 260 grams plain flour (for any Americans out there that's 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 185 grams caster sugar (see above, that's 1 cup regular sugar)
- Any spices that take your fancy - I like cinnamon, maybe some ground cloves (but go easy, that's powerful stuff!), a bit of ginger or nutmeg. Sometimes I go crazy and use chocolate chips! So there's lots of leeway here.
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of mashed bananas - that's usually about 2 biggish bananas. It's good if they're pretty ripe as they'll mash more easily, but not so black they've already turned to mush, as they'll make your bread (okay, cake) taste kind of funny.
- 120 millilitres vegetable oil (that's half a cup to you Yanks)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
What to do and how to do it
Okay you've got all your stuff lined up, so let's get mixing. Tip all the dry ingredients into your big bowl. Mix them up really well - here's where a whisk is handy, but you can get the same result with your fork or wooden spoon. A sifter is good too, but since it's not necessarily a kitchen staple I didn't mention it before. But if you don't have one, maybe consider it. They're useful things!
And now for the bananas
Once you've got your dry stuff mixed to your satisfaction, turn your attention to the bananas. I'm a bit of a minimalist so I like to use as few items of equipment as possible. So grab your measuring jug and put your bananas in it. Maybe cut them up a little so they fit better. Now get your fork and start mashing. I find this particularly cathartic if I'm mad at somebody. You know, when you just want to mash something. Well here it is! Your chance to do some mashing without getting the police involved.
Okay, your bananas are mashed and your frustrations vented. Excellent. Now scoop that gloopy mush into your dry ingredients. Remember, though, not to do this from a great height, as your floury mixture will take great offence and explode all over you. Ask me how I know this.
Scrape your jug out really well to get all that banana goodness (because it's the only healthy part of this recipe, except maybe the eggs - they've got protein right?). Then use that same jug to measure out your vegetable oil. See? Dual purpose measuring jug - fewer dishes to wash! Pour that into your floury/banana mixture, and then add the vanilla extract and the eggs (cracked open of course). You're nearly done! Easy peasy!
The rest of it
Now for the wooden spoon. It too can have a dual purpose. See, your kids might suspect something is up by now and may have ventured into the kitchen to see if they can have a taste. That spoon comes in really handy for shooing them away.
Once they're gone, give the spoon a quick clean and use it to mix all your ingredients together. If things are a bit dry and not really coming together, you can add a little bit of milk. Mix it up real good (as they say where I'm from) until you can't see the dry stuff anymore.
Now, take a quick look around to see if anyone's watching, and have a lick! Here's your opportunity to say 'Oh I think maybe a bit more cinnamon' or something like that. You know, just in case someone walks in at the exact moment you stick your finger in your mouth.
Load 'em up!
Right, is it all mixed up? Does it taste divine? Excellent! Time to decant into your loaf or muffin tin. Now, the decision about which to use is entirely yours. If it's for a gift I tend to make a loaf because it's easier to package up. It's also heavenly when sliced and toasted with lashings of butter. However, muffins are easy to deal with - no slicing. And it's amazing how easily they pop into your mouth. So it's up to you.
If you're going with the loaf tin, butter it first, then sprinkle it with flour before pouring the bread (er, cake) batter in. This helps it not to stick. If you're going down the muffin road, use those paper or silicone cases. Waaay easier to wash the muffin tin if you do. Then again, washing the silicone cases is a bit of a pain.
So, your loaf/muffin tin is loaded up. Your oven is pre-heated. Now comes the easiest part of all. Put it in the oven! If you're baking a loaf, put the timer on for about 45 minutes, and if you're making muffins, put it on for about 15-20 minutes. Now, the thing about timing is that everybody's oven is different. It's best just to keep an eye on it.
After the allotted time, use a cocktail stick to gauge done-ness. Stick it in your loaf/muffin, and if it comes out clean, and if your bread (er,cake) is a pleasing toasty brown on top, you can be pretty sure it's done. If your cocktail stick comes out with dough on it, bake for another few minutes and try again. Caution: By now the irresistible aroma will be wafting through your house so be prepared to use that cocktail stick as a weapon against marauding children/husbands/partners/etc.
Take your lovely creation out of the oven, leave it to cool for a bit, then remove from the tin. Here's my second to last tip - if you're using baking cases, make sure your muffins are completely cool before you try to remove them. Fail to heed my warning and you'll leave half the muffin behind in the case!
And now for my final, most important tip: Enjoy and share the banana bread love!