Of all the misnomers in this world, the one that infuriates me the most is banana bread. I love the stuff (could eat my sister’s all day long), but let’s face it- this is a very poorly monikered treat. Nine times out of ten, the “bread” in question is actually a cake; there’s oil or butter, vanilla extract, eggs- not to mention the requisite cup or so of sugar. For heaven’s sake, there are sometimes chocolate chips involved.
But this, my friends, is not that kind of banana bread. Continuing with my theme of the year, I was looking around for something a little different for this week’s loaf. My eyes settled on two unused and overripe bananas, turning soft and brown (as they tend to do) on my countertop. Problem solved- I was going to make banana bread. A real banana bread.
For help, I turned to Google, but my searches were futile; “banana bread that’s really bread” and “banana bread with YEAST” yielded nothing more than cake, cake and more cake- some not even bothering to masquerade as bread. Eventually, I came across an interesting fact: bananas have roughly the same water and starch content as cooked potatoes. Reaching for my trusty copy of How to Be a Domestic Goddess, I flipped to an old favourite of mine- Nigella‘s basic Potato Bread. Surely this recipe could be tweaked and reworked into the banana bread of my dreams?
Though slightly softer than the one it’s based on, this loaf still has a chewy, tight crumb and the ability to make fantastic toast. Granted, it might not pair so well with cheese, Marmite or Rarebit– but it sure was tasty with peanut butter and Nutella.
Yes, Nutella. I know, I know- I may have just as well made a cake.
makes 1 large round loaf
- 500g white bread flour, plus more for kneading
- 2 tsp. instant yeast
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 medium bananas, peeled and broken into chunks
- 2 Tbs. crème Fraiche
- 180ml warm water
- bit of butter, for greasing
- Mix together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the centre and set aside.
- Place the bananas in a smaller bowl with the crème fraiche. Using a fork or potato masher, mash until you have an generally uniform mush. Mix in the warm water and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones.
- Using a wooden spoon or dough whisk, stir until the mixture comes together into a sticky dough. Turn out onto a generously floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. You’ll likely use another 100g or so of flour at this point- just keep adding it to your surface to ensure dough doesn’t stick.
- Form the dough into a ball, butter it (I melt a bit of butter between my hands and pat it all over), then place in a covered bowl and leave somewhere warm to rise for about an hour. The dough should double in size.
- When the dough has risen, punch it down and knead again for about a minute. Form dough into a boule and place on a nonstick (or parchment-lined) baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for about 30 minutes until big and puffy again. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F.
- Bake the bread for 20 minutes at 220°C/425°F, then turn down the heat to 190°C/375°F and bake for another 10 minutes. When done, the crust should be golden brown and the loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool completely before slicing.