3 April 2013

Baking Banana Bread

I love bananas.  One of the real treats living in Nigeria was the abundance of the fruit – we could just walk into the garden and pick them straight from the ‘trees’, although you had to keep a careful eye out for snakes.  The bananas in Nigeria were nothing like the big tasteless ones you tend to get in Europe, they were small, soft and oh so sweet.  We were even able to get red bananas which were sweeter still, and plantain which is not at all nice raw but is beautiful fried. 

One of the things that surprised me when we moved to Kazakhstan was the easy availability of bananas, we get them year round and although they are a little pricey the cost is not prohibitive.  I am not sure where they come from but they are reasonably tasty.  They do perish rather quickly so you can have to
eat them fast or leave a few to go black and then bake banana bread. The break is very easy to make - so much so that I tend to use it as my stand by for unexpected visitors and the children have learned that if they leave some bananas in the bowl they will get cake.  It is also a cake with ingredients that are easily sourced just about everywhere, even in the most obscure postings.

My banana bread is based on a heavily edited version of Nigella Lawson’s recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess. I leave out the nuts (I worry about young children eating nuts) and add chocolate chips.   I take 110g of raisins and soak them in Tokaji overnight, if I don’t have time or, more likely, forget to do this the day before I just boil them up on the hob.  Most recipes call for rum, brandy or bourbon but the mellow taste of Tokaji works extremely well with the banana bread.  It is, in fact, my sweet cooking wine of choice but it can be difficult to find.  In a pinch I will use Madeira or Sherry.  

Raisins in Tokaji
Raisins in Tokaij
In one bowl I combine approximately 175g of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and ½ of baking soda. 
In another bowl I mix 125g of melted butter and 150g of sugar.  Add 4 mashed, over-ripe bananas to the butter mix followed by two eggs, the raisins (and any left-over Tokaji, don’t waste it) and vanilla extract.  I then add the dry ingredients to the wet; I find if I add a little at a time I only need to use a wooden spoon to mix. Once that is done I add the chocolate chunks about 75g, I like really dark, bitter chocolate because I think it combines well with the bananas, if I can't find proper cooking chocolate I just use my own

Banana Bread
Ready for the Oven
The cake goes in a low oven (about 170 degrees) until a tester (a knife in my case) comes out clean, this is usually about 1 hour but it might take a little longer.  I know that I should not eat the cake mix but who can resist it? The mashed bananas make this particular mix deliciously satisfying.

Banana Bread
Banana Bread
Click on the picture for more posts on the challenges of expat cooking.

Ersatz Expat


  1. I love that recipe - we have it lots here. We've had a lot of bananas recently that were reduced because they go black on the outside when they get too cold, but they're fine on the inside.
    Jan (an OR)

  2. Hi Jan, it is fabulous isn't it. I can't remember if we ever made it in home ec but we should have learned because it is such a good staple.