We all know what happened with banana bread during lockdown – it went as big as Beyoncé. It’s simple, sweet without being too indulgent, and a brilliant way to use up ripe bananas (you almost feel you’re recycling when making it).
But I always found banana bread to be quite dull and tried to jazz it up by adding anything and everything I could find in the cupboards: among other experiments, there was peanut butter banana bread, cornflake banana bread and Marmite banana bread (that one was not repeated). Then I remembered one of my favourite winter comfort foods – slices of ripe banana, shallow-fried in brown butter and honey until crisp, golden and caramelised. When added to banana bread, the effect of these caramelised bananas is – just like Beyoncé – mesmerising, and will make you want to twerk a little.
Makes 1 loaf/10 slices
140g soft unsalted butter
Demerara sugar, for coating the loaf tin
150g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
150g soft light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
300g (approximately 2 large) very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
choc chips (optional)
For the caramelised banana slices
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
2 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
1. First, make the batter. In a saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, keep stirring the butter until it turns golden brown and gives off a nutty, caramelised aroma. Set aside the brown butter for 30 minutes to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Lightly grease a 950g (2lb) loaf tin with butter and coat the sides in a little demerara sugar.
3. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl with the baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
4. Pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, honey and eggs and then whisk together until pale and frothy using a handheld electric mixer. Using a metal spoon or silicone spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients and mashed banana. At this point, fold in any nuts and chocolate, if using.
5. Next, make the caramelised banana slices. In a saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter. Once it starts to turn a caramel colour and smells nutty and sweet, add the honey or maple syrup. Turn the heat down to low, add the banana slices and gently stir for 2-3 minutes, taking care not to break up the slices. Set the caramelised banana slices aside to cool a little.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, then cover the top with two-thirds of the caramelised banana slices. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden and risen on top – a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
7. Leave the banana bread to cool slightly in the tin on a wire rack for 20 minutes then ease the loaf carefully from your tin and leave to cool on the rack for another 10 minutes at least. Cut the loaf into slices and serve while still warm with the rest of the caramelised bananas spooned over the top.
Variation: Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter
Add a handful of choc chips and a big dollop of peanut butter just after you’ve added the mashed banana.
Feeling inspired? WIN one of three copies of Breadsong on Muddy HQ’s Instagram for more totally delicious bakes.
Extract from Breadsong: How Baking Changed Our Lives by Kitty and Al Tait (Bloomsbury, £20). Photography © Mark Lord