It’s not often I have vivid dreams- two years’ of sleep deprivation has ensured that when my head hits the pillow the next thing I know it’s morning and Sol is wailing, ‘WANT MUMMYYYY…’ But pregnancy seems to either give me utterly bizarre and memorable dreams, or perhaps lightens my sleep enough to remember them. Anyway, the other morning I awoke with a burning and undeniable desire to make a chocolate banana bread. Luckily for the world at large I do not often feel such a drive to make my dreams reality, but this seemed absolutely imperative.
My mother has in her possession the absolute definitive recipe for banana bread- I have eaten many and none come close. It’s not dry or floury as some can be and it is and intensely banana-ey. Marvellous with a cup of tea. So really, this would not be an improvement but a variation. I toyed with the idea of just stirring through some broken up dark chocolate but wanted something even more chocolatey, so I replaced about 25g of the plain flour with cocoa powder (the bitter, unsweetened stuff, not drinking chocolate). It did not disappoint, although some argued the balance swung slightly in favour of the chocolate, so perhaps 20g, or indeed just the chocolate chunks idea… hmm I feel a repeat coming on…
One thing I must urge you to do though, whether you go for plain banana or chocolate, is to use the ripest, ooziest bananas possible. Leave them in the fruit bowl as long as you can; the blacker the better. It just won’t taste the same without that sweetness that comes from squished, bruised and thinly brown-skinned fruit.
1/2 cup of butter, softened (about 100g, if like me you can’t be bothered squishing butter into a cup)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup of mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium sized bananas)
1 3/4 cups plain flour CHOCCIE VERSION- replace 25g flour with 25g cocoa powder, sifted
1tsp. bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
OPTIONAL: 1 cup of chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds)
CHOCCIE VERSION- 100g best quality dark cooking chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, broken up into shards of the size you’d like to eat (in my case nice and generous!)
-Cream butter and sugar together
-Beat eggs in one at a time, beating until smooth
-Add mashed bananas and blend in
-In a second bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder (if using), bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and nuts (if using)
-Add to banana mixture along with the broken up chocolate, stirring only to moisten and combine- don’t over-mix.
-Transfer to greased and lined loaf tin
-Bake at 180C/350F for 50 mins to an hour or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean.
-Allow to cool before popping the kettle on, turning it out and giving yourself a lovely big slice.