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Banana bread, says Nigella, ‘is the first recipe anyone hesitant about baking should try’. I would add that banana bread is the first recipe anyone hesitant about baking and in possession of a moderate quantity of gone-off fruit should try: it’s hard to plan to make this, since you have to wait till your bananas are too ripe to eat, and most of the time I tend to eat my bananas in whatever state I find them. I am an equal-opportunities fruit consumer.
Anyway, I wasn’t quite the banana-eating machine I anticipated this week, so we did indeed have a moderate quantity of gone-off fruit. And I am hesitant about baking. And since it counts as bread, not cake, I didn’t feel too decadent making it for Saturday breakfast. Boxes ticked: onwards!
I should say that I’ve made Nigella’s banana bread twice, and it turned out pretty well both times. In the interests of mapping unchartered loaf tin territory, however, I used Sophie Dahl’s recipe in her Voluptuous Delights cookbook: the basic ingredients were mostly the same, but present in different quantities and put together in a different order. Mashing the bananas is an oddly satisfying task, although I did run into problems when it turned out my bananas weren’t as ripe as I thought – devious little things! Hiding their edibleness under smelly black skins! – and needed a few minutes of extra-vigorous mashing.
The finished loaf, though a bit too browned by my burn-happy oven, was soft and exceedingly tasty. Especially good still warm from the oven and sliced with butter.
Incidentally, delicious and wholesome this may be, but dressy it is not; if, however, you need to produce a masterpiece and black bananas are all you have, I accidentally discovered how to snazz banana bread up when I had to use a too-big loaf tin. It makes a shallower loaf that can then be cut into small squares. Put the squares into individual cupcake cases and dust with icing sugar, and suddenly it looks all fancy.
The verdict, then:
Deliciousness – Top marks. We devoured about half of it within fifteen minutes.
Complexity – minimal, except the irritating task of lining the loaf-tin with greaseproof paper (essential if you want it to emerge from the tin in one piece). You can buy loaf-tin liners these days, so I’m going to investigate. Origami first thing in the morning is not my forte. It takes a whole hour in the oven, too, so have something to nibble on if you’re making it for breakfast. I was about ready to eat my own face by the time it was done.
Washing-up pile – ten items (medium). It would’ve been less had I not kept forgetting I’d already got out a fork.
Casualties – one. I managed to bean myself on the head with the emergency cheese grater when getting the teaspoon measurer from the top of the cupboard. The grater has now been thrown away. When would we need emergency cheese, anyway?