What do you do at 6.15am when you have just waved off your 14 year old son on a 4 day long school trip to London? When you are fully awake but not quite ready to engage with the activities of the day? When you have what seem to be tears in your eyes, which is odd because two minutes ago you were standing at the front doorstep in your dressing gown, smiling madly, nodding, and waving in a most encouraging fashion?
Well, if you're me, you make a banana loaf (or two, as it turned out).
A couple of hefty slices (buttered of course) and two big mugs of tea helped me to swallow down the lump in my throat. Not the healthiest breakfast nutritionally, but emotionally it hit the spot nicely.
Banana loaf is probably one of the first things that people attempt to bake, and there are good reasons why: it's very easy to make, very adaptable, and most kitchens have a couple of very speckly, or black bananas in the fruit bowl at some point every week. It is absolutely delicious; lovely on its own, or toasted (under the grill, it would stick in most toasters). It also freezes well.
There are countless recipes for banana loaf, but I always use this one, from my rather hacked- about edition of Amy Willcock's 'Aga Baking'. The page shows some signs of use, to put it politely.
Although the recipe is for a 2lb loaf, there is often sufficient mixture to make an additional 1lb loaf, or even few muffins, depending on the size of the bananas, and what additional ingredients you use.Today I added 100g of chopped walnuts and 100g of sultannas, but you could also use 100g of chocolate chips, or 100g dessicated coconut, or a tablespoon of poppy seeds and the grated zest of a lemon, or anything atall that you like.
Line 2lb loaf tin with loaf tin liner (held in place with dabs of butter if necessary). Preheat oven to Gas 4/180c
2 tbsp milk
2 L eggs
80 ml sunflower oil
3 bananas, peeled and mashed
1 tsp baking powder
250g self raising flour, sifted
150g caster sugar
Optional: additions, as described above.
Combine all ingredients in roomy bowl and mix thouroughly. Spoon into lined loaf tin (or tins, depending on additional ingred). Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until well browned on top, and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. (If you have enough mixture for an additional 1lb loaf, it will take about 25-35 minutes).