Growing up my mum always made me delicious cakes, because of my allergies. It was hard to eat store bought cakes as they always had nut traces or some other ingredient I couldn’t eat, so rather than risk it she would bake up a storm in the kitchen. There was a time, I remember, when she would bake something every Tuesday. I would have my piano lesson and at the end we would all sit and eat cake. Highly unhealthy I’m sure but I have fond memories of that time, and it certainly made practising the piano more enjoyable! One of my favourites was her great banana bread, which (in my opinion) she perfected over the years. As hers was so good I never thought to try and do my own, but when I had an excess of bananas (and realised how cheap they are!) I decided to make my own.
As I am sure you know, and any good recipe book will tell you, banana bread is best made with over ripe bananas. I’m talking about bananas that are gooey and soft, with the skin looking more like a giraffe than a banana. The importance of soft bananas is all in the taste. They are more caramel like and gooey, taking your banana loaf from tasty to amazing. Using light brown sugar also helps to add to this. If you can’t wait for your bananas to ripen, you can emulate this texture by popping some bananas (skin on), on a tray covered in baking paper, in the oven for 10 minutes at 180 degrees C. It’s not quite as good, but does help replicate the ripe texture.
To make my own I hurriedly called my mum and ended up jotting the recipe on the top of a newspaper, but also looked at a variety of other recipes. One I particularly drew on was Nigella’s, from her newest book, Simply Nigella. I’ve long been a Nigella fan, but of course her recipes all need to be adapted to be fodmap friendly and so I just took the idea of using cardamon from her. I also drew on my Hummingbird Bakery book, which again is another firm favourite, as well as my mum’s own recipe. I have to say the end combination was absolutely delicious, and didn’t feel so naughty with all the banana in it!
Being at university and on a budget I couldn’t buy some ground cardamon, but had cardamon pods. Consequently I decided it would be easy enough to grind the seeds myself, suffice to say it was not. With no pestle and mortar I tried to grind them with the back of a spoon but this proved very difficult so ended up simply chopping them as finely as I could. This also proved rather time consuming. I would recommend making sure you have ground cardamon first, not just pods especially if you don’t have adequate grinding equipment like me! Do not worry though, there is no need to buy expensive equipment, in fact this recipe can be easily made without any electric whisks, blenders or even the pestle and mortar (if you buy ground cardamon). This is one of the other many pluses of this recipe.
Ingredients (Makes one loaf and one small round tin)
275g Light Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs
3 Large over ripe bananas and another for the top
120g Unsalted Butter (or substitute if lactose intolerant)
300g Plain Gluten Free Flour (I use Dove’s Farm)
Teaspoon of Baking Powder
Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
10g Ground Cardamon
Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- With a fork, very lightly mash the three bananas in a plastic bowl. You want chunks still, so you get juicy bits of banana and not just a banana flavour when you bite into it. Put to one side.
- Using an electric whisk, or simply a wooden spoon, mix together the sugar and eggs until well combined.
- Sift in the flour, bicarbonate and baking powder into the eggs and sugar. Mix through.
- Then pour in the melted butter and beat until a batter has formed and the mixture is well combined.
- Fold in the mashed banana, cardamon and ginger. You want to ensure there is an even spread through the batter but also that the banana does not become too combined.
- Finally, cut the remaining banana in half length ways, being careful to break it, and place on the top of the cake.
- Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Leave on a wire rack to cool slightly before serving. But don’t wait too long to eat, banana bread is at its best when warm crisp!