I like bananas on the just barely ripe end of the spectrum, so it is no surprise (especially in summer) when I have a surfeit of ripe bananas which have turned from ‘ripe-but-I-can-cope-eating-them’ into a ‘nope’, necessitating the apron to come down and oven to be turned on. This recipe is based on a handwritten one that my Grandma wrote for me that has somehow survived multiple house moves without becoming lost. As she would have been celebrating her 110th birthday this month, this post is dedicated to her.
This recipe doesn’t shy away from the banana part of the loaf. The quantity of bananas is listed as 4 – 6, which leaves plenty of wiggle room. I’ve made this with 6 small – medium sized bananas and also with 4 large bananas, and the recipe worked both times.
The loaf cuts cleaner when cool, however it tastes amazing warm. Invariably I make the first cut while its still a little too warm, as I love fresh warm banana bread and feel no regrets at the resulting messier looking slice.
Makes 12 slices
4 – 6 bananas
115 grams salted butter, softened
215 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
315 grams flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 lb loaf tin
- Prepare the loaf tin by greasing and/or lining the tin. Preheat the oven to 180*C (160*C fan), or 350*F
- Peel the bananas and break them up into a large bowl. Mash the bananas with a fork till mostly smooth or to a consistency of personal preference.
- In another large bowl add the butter and caster sugar and cream until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating them into the creamed mixture.
- Add the vanilla extract and combine with the creamed mixture.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold till halfway incorporated.
- Add the mashed bananas and fold till all ingredients are just combined.
- Add the mixture to the prepared loaf tin and bake for 60 – 75 minutes or until cooked. Keep an eye on the loaf after about 45 minutes and if it begins to brown on the top too much then remove the loaf from the oven and cover with aluminium foil and return to the oven.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin for about 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and leave it to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
Nerd Notification: Food Science – Bananas
Despite appearances, the banana ‘tree’ is not a tree. It is an herb, and the banana is its seedless berry. A ‘bunch’ of bananas can have as many as 300 fruit which grow in 1 – 20 tiers (‘hands’) 1 .
Bananas convert their starch to sugar as they ripen. In a mature banana the starch to sugar ratio of swings from 25 to 1 when unripe to 20 to 1 when the fruit is ripe. When ripe, the sugar content of a banana by weight is 18%, making it one of the sweetest fruits.2 As a comparison passionfruit is 8%, kiwifruit is 11%, and mango is 14%. Dates are one of the few fruits which clock in sweeter with a semi-dried date at 60% sugar by weight. 3
Why are bananas curvy?
Bananas grow into their characteristic shape due to negative geotropism. What is geotropism? This is the growth of plants in response to gravity. Essentially this results in growth working with gravity (positive), or in the case of bananas against gravity (negative).
Further Nerd Notification: Etymology
This is thought to come from West Africa, possibly from banaana, the Wolof word for the fruit.4
Geo – from the Greek for ‘earth’ and Tropism – from Greek τροπος ‘a turning’5
1 McGee on Food & Cooking, Harold McGee, Hodder & Stoughton, 2004 (p.378)
2 McGee on Food & Cooking, Harold McGee, Hodder & Stoughton, 2004 (p.378)
3 McGee on Food & Cooking, Harold McGee, Hodder & Stoughton, 2004 (p.383)