Longing for the comforts of the past – sitting at a café with a flat white and a book – my sorrow was answered by my favourite local café publishing their banana bread recipe. Browns of Brockley serves it better than I could, but their easy to follow recipe is good for all of us to try at home until we can go have their butter-smothered, grilled to perfection version again.
Banana bread is comfort food. It is also perfect for an Easter dessert. In the current quarantine situation, you also probably have the ingredients available to you easily – it doesn’t require yeast and only takes 6 ingredients to perfection.
This recipe is best served in the English style: fried bread. I had not heard of fried bread until Aaron muttered the word one evening discussing breakfast treats. It is exactly what it sounds like; bread fried in oil or butter. I am used to eating this particular banana bread fresh from the grill in the café where I get it, with a dollop of butter filling it through with deliciousness.
I have adapted Browns’ recipe based on my pan – I have a 900g loaf tin (this one in particular) which is 2lbs, or 21x11cm, or 8.5×4.5in. Their recipe is for a 1450g loaf tin, a much bigger loaf! Since I am not cooking for a café worth of customers, Aaron helped me to do the math to size this down with a handy Excel spreadsheet formula.
The steps to make this bread are simple, like most cake or sweet recipes tend to be. The butter is better cool, but soft. Not quite room temperature soft, but still soft enough that you can incorporate it easily with the sugar. Here is where a kitchen scale, as I discussed in my introduction post, comes in handy. I am not going to change the recipe for you, because something different happens when you measure by volume as opposed to weight. I have translated recipes before that call for a certain amount of cups of an ingredient (butter for example), and when looking at what that is in grams, I notice that it is too much, or too little. Sorry, US friends! Time to get used to the metric system…
First things first, preheat your oven to 180º C. While that is on, cream together your room temperature butter and sugar, stirring well and hard until mixed all together. If you have a hand mixer, that will work wonders here. Aaron and I had to make do with my pastry spatula, patience, and elbow grease.
It also helps to cut the butter into cubes while you leave it out to soften. I forgot to do that this time, and mashing a block of butter is significantly more difficult than doing so with diced cubes. You will mix this all up really well until it is super creamy and pale looking, and there aren’t any lumpy bits.
Once that is done, gradually add the eggs. Do this one at a time until fully incorporated before adding the next one. A whisk comes in handy here.
Now that the wet ingredients are mixed all together, sift in the flour, baking powder and salt a bit at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. In the meantime, while Aaron was mixing and after I had weighed out all of the dry ingredients, my hands were busy mashing up the soft bananas. It drives me bananas (ha) to have a hectic workspace, so I try to master as much mise en place as I can. The French phrase means “putting everything in its place”. Such a lovely idea. Before I cook, before anything happens, I measure all of my ingredients and have them ready to go so that I am not frantically searching for them when my arms are deep in, say mashing bananas.
Mise en place is an important concept for any kitchen, professional or not. If you don’t already, I encourage you to spend time with your recipe and ingredients, familiarizing yourself before you get cooking. It will prevent you from making silly mistakes and help you get things done more efficiently. I have Gü dessert ramekins that I save to use for measuring things like this ! Don’t knock my jar hoarding until you realise how much you can can reuse things for cooking and for storage equally !
Once all of the flour is in, add the mashed up bananas to the mixture and stir them in. While Aaron was stirring that, I buttered the inside of the loaf tin. If you’ve just used the last bit of butter, don’t throw away the wrapper ! You can use all that leftover butter to squidge around inside the baking tin and have less waste, amazing !
Browns called for a 45 minute cooking time, but they had a bigger loaf tin and a thicker industrial loaf tin (so I thought, mine is quite thick!). I decided to set a timer for 25 minutes to check in on it. It wasn’t done yet, but I did turn it around in the oven, as the back of my oven cooks hotter than the front and I noticed it wasn’t browning equally. It did end up taking the full 45 minutes at 180º.
We removed the bread from the oven, and got a wire cooling rack at the ready. Every time I have cooked banana bread, without fail, it has gotten stuck to the inside of the tin. With this tin, the finished loaf fell right out.
We set it on the rack to cool and impatiently stood nearby, waiting to cut into it. The kitchen was filled with its sweet aroma, and outside the sun shone brighter. Too tempted, we cut into the loaf as soon as we could and Aaron fried two pieces in butter. Then we sat in the garden to enjoy it. Except, we didn’t make it to the garden. We stood at the counter wolfing down the slices then and there ! Surprisingly, there is still some of the loaf left on the counter, but as soon as that last bit is gone we are making this again. I think that will be tomorrow.
Browns Banana Bread
Measurements for a 900g baking tin:
180g sugar (granulated or caster sugar)
155g butter, softened but cool
7.5g baking powder
2.5 bananas, broken up by hand
a pinch of salt
1. Cream the butter and sugar together really well, until pale and creamy.
2. Gradually add in eggs, one at a time, mixing until the first is incorporated before adding the next.
3. Once incorporated, sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Add the mashed bananas
Cook in the oven at 180ºC, 350ºF for 45 minutes. Check in on it depending on the thickness and size of the tin you use, and adjust the time accordingly.
I heavily encourage you to not only make this recipe, but to try frying the bread. It is gross, it is English, it is also admittedly the best way to enjoy a slice of banana bread.
Make this on your Easter quarantine, you won’t regret it. I can link you to some good workout videos after 😉