- 100 grams walnuts
- 5-6 very ripe bananas
- 125 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 125 grams brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 200 grams plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Small amount of olive oil
- A pinch of sea salt
Tried and true
I grew up eating mum’s banana bread, with little dots of banana in a dense loaf and always with a smear of butter. This banana loaf is next level; moist, rich, with tones of caramel and speckles of deliciously crunchy nuts. As a child I may have preferred mum’s more traditional banana bread but now that I’m (ahem) a little older, this is definitely a favourite in our house.
Preheat your oven to 170°C. Scatter the walnuts on a baking tray and pop them in the oven to roast for about 5 minutes, or until they smell toasty. While the nuts are roasting, peel the bananas and mash them up using a fork until you have a mixture of smooth and chunky, and set aside for later.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a food processor, or by hand, until smooth and pale. Beat the eggs in one by one until you have a smooth batter. If you need to, transfer the mix to a large bowl ready to take on the rest of the ingredients.
Take the roasted walnuts and chop roughly so you have a variety of textures from halved to finely chopped. Add the chopped walnuts and mashed bananas to the bowl of batter, then sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix everything together well to combine.
Line a loaf tin with baking paper – this is where a bit of Jamie Oliver flair comes in. Jamie’s recipe recommends scrunching the paper under a running tap, then drizzling olive oil over both sides of the paper and pushing it into the loaf tin. I have to say this seems to make the crust a little crunchier on the bottom and is worth the tiny extra bit of effort. Once the loaf tin is lined, pour in the batter and pop in the oven for an hour. Test if the loaf is cooked by poking a skewer or knife in the middle – if it comes out clean the loaf is cooked, otherwise you will need to put the loaf back in the oven for a few more minutes.
While the loaf is cooking you can make the delicious chocolate orangey butter. Break up 100 grams of good quality chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) up into small pieces, taking care not to sneak too much into your mouth, and melt gently in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (just make sure the bowl and the water don’t touch). When the chocolate has melted, stir in the zest of 2 oranges and leave the mixture to cool.
Cream together 150 grams unsalted butter and 80 grams icing sugar, then beat in the cooled chocolate until the mixture is even and fluffy. Transfer the mixture to a jar or dish. You can eat it straight away or put it in the fridge for a few hours to cool and harden – you will need to let it soften out of the fridge for a 20 minutes or so before you tuck in.
- The riper the bananas, the better! I’ve used seriously overripe bananas and the bread turns out so moist and soft. Definitely worth waiting an extra day or two for the bananas to ripen up.
- You can substitute the walnuts with or mix in pecans up to 100 grams. Pecans get delicious toasty and crunchy and pair well with the caramelly banana.
- If you have leftover chocolate butter (gasp!), it will keep in the fridge for a day or so and go beautifully on anything warm and toasty – bread, waffles, pancakes, muffins.
Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s walnut and banana loaf as seen on www.jamieoliver.com