I like bananas - I like them a lot - and bananas show up in my breakfast/brunch, in some form or another, on a fairly regular basis. Maybe sliced over a bowlful of this Tropical Fruit Granola with a dollop of homemade Greek-style yoghurt and a slosh of almond milk; sometimes in a simple banana and vanilla smoothie; often in this Banana, Lemon & Passionfruit "Breakfast" Ice Cream; and sometimes sliced over a thick slathering of peanut butter (absolutely must be Pic's and must be crunchy) atop a slice of this quick and easy wholemeal bread.
So when it came to choosing a Donna Hay dish for our "Up & At 'Em" (breakfast food) theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, there was a fairly good chance that bananas were going to figure in the recipe I would choose to start my day with. A quick search of Donna's website turned up several recipes for banana bread, ranging from plain to fancy, and I knew this was the direction I wanted to head in. Although some of the variations Donna offers sound wonderful, I was in the mood for plain and simple, so I opted for the Basic Banana Bread, though since we will be cooking with Donna Hay for several months yet I'm going to make it my mission to bake every one of the banana breads that she has on offer.
I did ring a few minor changes to the recipe. For a start, one thing you'll never find in my house is a fully ripe banana. Not the ideal start for banana bread, I'll concede, but if there's one thing I can't stand it's a ripe banana - or a cooked one for that matter (no banana fritters for this girl). No matter how I plan to eat my bananas, they must be slightly under-ripe - the skin still green tinged in places, the flesh still firm to the bite, and the sugars not yet fully developed. So this doesn't exactly lend itself to mushing up bananas for banana bread or cake or muffins, so the technique I've developed over time is to slice up the bananas and use a small quantity of the recipe's butter and sugar to caramelise the bananas in a saute pan. This way the bananas are cooked until they are soft enough to mash and mix into the bread/cake batter. Now I must say that you don't get quite the intensity of banana flavour as you do with fully ripe fruit, but I prefer it that way, and the caramelising process brings some of those lovely "butterscotch" notes to the finished product. The other change I made was substituting agave nectar for the golden syrup which was called for in the original recipe.
You could very easily trick this recipe up with any number of variations: adding nuts or chocolate chunks, raspberries or blueberries, but plain and simple was what I was after this time around.
The final bread is deliciously moist and, although it doesn't need a good smeer of butter, it certainly tasted good with one. I'm guessing that this will also taste great toasted in a couple of days time, if it lasts that long, in which case I reckon a slathering of Nutella might be called for.
Caramelised Banana Bread Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Donna Hay
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
125g (4.5 oz) room temperature butter
1 cup soft brown sugar
3x medium-sized bananas, sliced into rings
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
13/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup agave nectar
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (325 degrees F).
Lightly grease a 23cm x 13cm (9" x 5") loaf tin, and line with baking paper.
Measure out the butter and sugar, then melt one tablespoon of the butter in a medium sized skillet set over moderate heat. Add banana to the pan, and sprinkle over one tablespoon of the sugar. Saute, stirring often, until the bananas have softened to a "mashable" consistency, and become gooey and caramelised. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
Put the remaining butter and sugar, together with the vanilla, into the bowl of a food processor, and cream together until light and fluffy, stopping from time to time to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to the food processor, along with the agave nectar and caramelised bananas, and pulse a few times until everything is only just combined - take care not to over mix.
Spoon mixture into the prepared tin, and bake for 60-65 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see what delicious breakfast dishes everyone else has created to kick-start their days, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links ...
I will also be submitting this post to Sweet New Zealand. Inspired by Alessandra Zecchini, Sweet New Zealand is an event for all Kiwi bloggers (whether living at home or abroad), or all foreign bloggers living in New Zealand, to link up their sweet treats. This month, Sweet New Zealand is hosted by Lucy at Lucy Eats.
And, spreading the love around, I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, Michelle at Ms. enPlace, and at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads.