Thursday, October 18, 2012

Banana Bread

Work has been incredibly stressful lately, so a weekend away to the countryside, without mobile phone reception for 48 hours, was the perfect remedy. The quaint cottage near Daylesford was surrounded on all sides by bush-land, and was fairly self-sufficient; it ran on solar power, gas, firewood and rainwater. I loved it so much that I'm happy to recommend it as an ideal weekend away destination (if you're interested in staying at the cottage, email me and I'll pass on your details to the owner). 

I'd brought a couple of books to read (including a cookbook), but as always, the itch to bake surfaced and I decided to whip up a batch of banana bread. I had everything I needed as a result of stocking up on fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts at the markets, and grabbing some pantry staples from a Woolworths on the way up. On a whim, I'd bought wholemeal flour rather than standard flour, and I had a massive jar of Natvia that I had leftover from a previous baking experiment, so decided to make use of that rather than using sugar. The bread probably turned out healthier than I'd originally planned. 

The resulting recipe was fairly easy, and a lot of fun with all the mashing and chopping and mixing. The combination of fresh and dried fruit, nuts and just a hint of chocolate was addictive, moist, not too sweet and deeply satisfying. My method of adding ingredients is a bit haphazard, but that's the way de-stress weekends should work right? You shouldn't spend time worrying about the proper order of things after all. 

Dry-roasting some almonds to boost their flavour seems like a good start though. 

Dry-Roasted Almonds
While the almonds are in the oven, peel, then mash the bananas in a large bowl. 

Ripe Bananas
Keep mashing (this is the super-fun bit) until you have a thick paste, the mix in the butter and eggs and stir the wet batter thoroughly. 


Butter
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and Natvia, then mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Stir in the dried cranberries and almonds (roughly chopped) and/or whatever else you feel like adding to your mixture.


Banana Bread Batter with Cranberries and Almonds

Pour the batter into a buttered and lined square baking pan (or a loaf tin), then top with the dark chocolate and bake for 40 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean).

Batter Ready for the Oven
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.  


Banana Bread 

Ingredients:
  • 3 medium ripe bananas
  • 150g butter, chopped and at room temperature
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 3 tbsp Natvia
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 50 g dark chocolate, chopped
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, then dry-roast the almonds on flat baking sheet for 10 minutes. Allow the almonds to cool, chop them roughly, and turn down the oven temperature to 170°C.
  2. While the almonds are in the oven, prepare the rest of the batter; peel, then mash the bananas in a large bowl until you have a thick paste. 
  3. Mix in the butter, then mix in the eggs. Stir the wet batter until well combined.  
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and Natvia, then mix the wet and dry ingredients together.
  5. Stir in the dried cranberries and almonds.
  6. Pour the batter into a buttered and lined square baking pan (or a loaf tin), then top with the dark chocolate and bake for 40 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean).
  7. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. 
Banana Bread