Since baking this at the beginning of the week I've been contemplating how best to start this post but in truth, I actually have very little to say on the subject of banana bread. For one, it's not bread, so if you can't embrace the fact you're eating cake for breakfast then please move along, there's nothing to see here.
It's also something about which I don't get particularly excited, but it remains one of the few good ways to deal with an excess of overripe bananas, and since a lot of people absolutely love it if you don't have at least one failsafe banana loaf recipe up your sleeve then what kind of baker are you?!
So if I'm going to the effort of making said banana loaf then it's at least got to have a few bonus ingredients to keep things interesting: a few different flours (preferably wholemeal or spelt) for added flavour and texture (or even some rolled oats or coconut if you're feeling particularly bashful); some nuts and dried fruit for extra crunch and chew, respectively; and a sprinkling of raw sugar or crumble on top are all high on the list of recipe essentials. I tend to steer clear of adding chocolate, but some oozy chunks of one that's dark and bitter certainly wouldn't go astray if you really had a hankering for something sweet. Like most cakes it's pretty good still-warm from the oven, but I like it best on a dark rainy day - toasted, with a big smear of salted butter, and a large pot of tea.
BANANA LOAF WITH HAZELNUT & DATE (Adapted from a recipe by Violet Bakery)
- 150 g plain flour
- 60 g spelt flour
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 40 g hazelnut oil
- 110 g olive oil
- 200 g dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp dark rum
- 2 eggs
- 75 g cultured buttermilk
- 300 g ripe banana (peeled weight), plus 1-2 whole bananas, for the topping
- 75 g hazelnuts, roasted, skinned and roughly chopped
- 165 g Medjool dates, roughly chopped
- 1-3 Tbsp raw sugar, for the topping
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 10- × 25-cm loaf tin with baking paper.
Weigh the flours, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
Mash the bananas well and set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk together the oils, brown sugar, vanilla, rum, eggs and buttermilk, until smooth. Add the banana and whisk to combine. Fold the dry ingredients through the banana mix until just combined, followed by the dates and hazelnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth over with a spatula. Top with the reserved banana (sliced in half lengthways) and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake at 180°C for 50-60 minutes, until the top has started to caramelise and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.