|Chocolate-chip banana bread|
It might not win a cake beauty contest, but I've always had a soft spot for banana bread. For starters, it's a self-effacing, everyday kind of bake. A cake you can legitimately eat for breakfast. The Aussies do it all the time, toasted and slathered in butter.
Secondly, it's almost embarrasingly easy to make, so it's a great cake to make when you're starting out baking - a 5hr Great British Bake Off technical challenge the banana bread is not.
Thirdly, banana bread appeals to my inner tight-wad. I hate throwing food away. So, ever since I read a piece by Molly Wizenburg on the joys of freezing whole bananas, I've never thrown away another bruised or battered banana. Instead, there's a drawer of our freezer that doubles as a retirement home for past-their-prime bananas, frozen in time until they can be recalled into service for muffins and banana breads.
If you've never defrosted a banana in the microwave before it can be a disconcerting experience. Split open the skin, blackened by frost, and out slinks a grey-brown slug. Don't panic! It's now the exact ripe and mushy texture to make banana bread.
Banana bread is a vehicle for lots of complimentary flavours. It works with most nuts and dried fruits. Plus, most importantly, chocolate. Two of my favourite versions are Molly Wizenburg's banana bread with dark chocolate and crystalised ginger from her book My Homemade Life, and Sophie Dahl's banana bread with coconut and crème fraîche, from her former column in Waitrose Food Illustrated.
Chocolate-chip banana bread is my own humble addition to the banana-y canon. It's certainly not going to make prom queen but it's a warm and cosy cake for this time of year, when the leaves are falling, the winds are gathering pace and you need something a little more comforting than cereal to ease you into the day. We've been eating it for breakfast, served warm with a big spoonful of sheep's yoghurt and a bigger mug of Earl Grey.
Best of all, banana bread freezes like a dream. So, in the same freezer drawer as the frozen bananas we now have bags of chocolate-chip banana bread. It's a perfect circle, people.
Chocolate-chip banana bread
4 medium-size ripe bananas
150g unsalted butter
150g light soft brown sugar
2 medium free-range eggs
150g milk chocolate chips
300g white spelt flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100ml sunflower oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
Mash the bananas with a fork (if using frozen bananas, defrost in the microwave on low for 1 minute first).
Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy. Stir in the bananas with a large metal spoon.
Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add to the butter and banana mixture about a third at a time, followed by a third of the beaten egg. Beat well with the electric mixer after each addition. Add the oil and beat until the mixture is smooth.
Add the chocolate chips and fold them in with the large metal spoon just until they are distributed well throughout the batter.
Pour into the loaf tin and use a spatula or palette knife to smooth the top. Bake for 1 hr or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
What's your favourite thing to add to banana bread? Let me know in the comments below.