Banana bread, or it is Banana cake? It sure looks and tastes like a cake, so why is it called Banana bread then ? The answer to that lies in the early 1900s. Back then, baking was not something housewives indulged in. There were no conventional ovens, nor was there baking powder or baking sodas. The first cakes were very different from what we eat today. The cakes were more bread-like and were sweetened with honey nuts and dried fruits. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that cake, as we know it today (made with extra refined white flour and baking powder instead of yeast), arrived on the scene. Baking at home became quite the rage, and fruits made their way into cakes. Banana bread came to be known as “quick bread” as it did not take as long as the traditional yeast-style breads did. And so came about a blend between a cake and bread using sweet over-ripe bananas.
You can tell a favourite recipe by how often it is used, and this recipe is one I return to again and again. Don't throw out those soft, over-ripe bananas. You might not want to look, peel and actually eat them, but if they aren't too far gone, you can turn them into a wonderful, easy-to-make treat—banana bread. In fact, I often buy bananas expressly for making this bread, impatiently waiting for their skin to turn brown and their flesh to become soft and sweet. Banana bread starts with a thick sweet batter that is full of mashed bananas and usually made with ground cinnamon and toasted nuts. It is, as the name "Quick" bread implies, quick to make. The dry ingredients are mixed together in one bowl, the wet ingredients are mixed together in another bowl. The two are combined and you are done. When you pull this banana bread from the oven, the golden brown crust is delightfully crisp and although the crust softens once the bread is covered and stored, its wonderful moist texture and sweet flavour remain intact.
This recipe (see box) is, however, a twist on the traditional style. Chocolate and bananas are a match made in heaven, so can almost imagine how sinful this is going to taste. Dark chocolate chips in a soft, moist slice of cake smothered with Nutella. This one will be hard to resist.
Tejsinghani is the author of Aapplemint, a food, travel and photography blog
* 285 gm self raising flour
* 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
* ½ tsp salt
* 110 gm butter, plus extra for greasing
* 200 gm demerara sugar (add more if you like it sweeter)
* 2 large eggs
* 3 soft ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
* 85 ml buttermilk (or normal milk mixed with ½ tsp lemon juice or vinegar)
* 200 gm chopped dark chocolate, chopped up roughly
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* A jar of Nutella chocolate spread (optional)
* Preheat the oven to 180°C.
* Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl.
* In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
* Add the eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the
butter and sugar mixture and mix well.
* Add the chocolate chips at this point and gently fold in the mixture.
* Grease a 20 cm x 12.5 cm/ 8in x 5in loaf tin and pour the cake mixture into the tin.
* Transfer to the oven and bake for about an hour, or until well-risen and
* Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
* Cut into slices and spread a generous layer of Nutella and serve.