Oven-warm homemade banana bread, slathered with butter that melts on your slice, and a pot of leaf tea… weekends don’t start much better than this! Unless you’re waking up to the smell of one of these already baking because somebody lovely decided to surprise you with it. 🙂
Hubby assures me it’s very easy to make which means I never say no when he suggests it! And if I ‘forget’ to eat the bananas in the kitchen then he suggests it more often than not… I suspect that he’s also after any excuse to use the HydroBake setting on our new oven, which keeps the humidity from whatever’s baking in the oven as steam and just makes his baked noms that much better (which I didn’t think was even possible!).
And it’s ‘loaded’ because of all the fruit and/or nuts Hubby throws into the mix which, given his inability to leave well enough alone, changes every time – today’s one was full of stewed apples and cinammon! But the flavour of the banana always wins through, and the older the banana the stronger their flavour – we’ve even frozen bananas that looked beyond saving because we knew how awesome they would be in this, that and we are trying to be better about food waste (if you are using frozen bananas, defrost thoroughly first otherwise you won’t be able to mash them).
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to banana bread and prefer it loaf shaped, hands down, over muffins. They’re more portable muffin sized but I think a little drier, and you really just can’t beat the perfection of all that melty butter on a warm slice of loaf. Look at my picture again and tell me I’m wrong 😉
Hubby's Loaded Banana Bread
Oven-warm homemade banana bread, slathered with melting butter, it doesn't get much better than this.
(or for a healthier option, use 3/4 cup of apple sauce instead plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Butter or Vegetable Oil to grease tin.
Stuff you can take or leave…
- 3/4 cup chopped pecan or walnut pieces, don’t process these as it becomes too grainy (Hubby says he prefers pecans for taste)
- a few handfuls of sultanas or raisins. Asda has a dried fruit mix that has raisins and golden sultanas plus lemon peel.
- Fresh blueberries also go in really well. If you’re using these, add them gently by hand just before baking to keep them whole.
Other stuff you’ll need…
6 by 9-inch loaf pan of muffin tray
Large mixing bowl
Preheat the oven to 175C for bread or 200C for muffins and put the oven rack in the centre position. Lightly grease your loaf pan with vegetable oil or butter (if you’re using muffin cups or silicon trays, skip this).
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and sour cream, and whisk until smooth.
Peel the bananas and place in a small bowl. Mash with the back of a fork until there are no big lumps remaining. Add these to the wet mixture together with the cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine.
Add the nuts and dried fruits / berries at this point. Do this before you add the flour so as not to overmix.
Add the flour and stir until just combined. Be careful, again, to not overmix.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan and give it a good shoogle and bang it a few times on your counter to get rid of any air bubbles in the mix. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over the top, and then pop into the overn and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes for bread (or 25 minutes for muffins) until golden brown and risen. Check if the bread is done by pushing a toothpick into the middle, if it comes out clean the bread is ready.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before turning the bread out of its pan. More fruit-heavy loaves will need longer to cool to avoid falling apart. Muffins not in cases should be allowed to cool in their trays.
Easter weekend and then my birthday have conspired to throw my posting timetable a little off track… Hoping to resume normal service this Sunday! In the meantime, feast your eyes on these seriously cute cupcakes that Hubby rustled up to celebrate (or commiserate) me turning another year older 🙂
Being a savoury tooth rather than sweet, I prefer my cake-age to be of the unfussy variety. It took me forever to persuade Hubby that a Victoria sponge really was my idea of a good time, whilst death by multiple varieties of chocolate really wasn’t! So this year I woke up to the smell of these baking, and they were utterly divine. The perfect balance of buttercream and strawberry jam in the middle allowed the simple tastiness of the sponge to shine through. Just perfect with a nice cup of tea…
200g Stork (the tub, not the block), or margarine. Don’t be tempted to use butter. Just don’t. If you want a perfect sponge, go Stork.
240g self-raising flour
4 large eggs
1tsp good quality vanilla extract (I use a variety with vanilla seeds in, it’s lovely)
(And, if you’re making the Victoria Sponges here and not just cupcakes, a jar of your favourite jam)
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F.
Begin by creaming the Stork margarine using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or the electric mixer. Do this until the margarine is very soft and pale in colour, it should take a minute or two.
Once the Stork is nice and soft, simply tip the rest of your ingredients into the mixer’s bowl or a mixing bowl and mix until everything is incorporated, starting on a low speed to minimise the mess. That’s really all there is too it, there’s no need to separate your wet and dry ingredients, or fold anything, it’s just that simple.
As a note, don’t be tempted to over mix the ingredients, you really just want them blended, with no visible lumps. Too much mixing will result in a tougher batter, and you’ll end up with dense cakes that aren't light and fluffy. We don’t want that!
After everything’s blended, just spoon the batter into the muffin cups – this recipe makes about 12 good-sized cupcakes, and set the tray into the oven, on the middle shelf. You don’t want to get the tin too close to the top or the tops of the cupcakes will brown over-much.
Now, here’s the only really fiddly part. Since you’re baking on a low heat, you’ll need to keep an eye on the cupcakes. The recipe guideline states about 15 minutes cooking time, but I find that this is a good starting point for when you should first check their progress. I find around 20-22 minutes to be more accurate. You can tell they’re done when, if you insert a toothpick into the centre of one, it comes out clean. If not, just add a few more minutes at a time, and monitor them until they’re set.
Once they’re ready, remove the tin from the oven, and allow them to sit for about 30 minutes before you remove them to your sheet of aluminium foil or greaseproof paper to continue cooling. This can take an hour or more, so be patient.
While it’s cooling, you can prepare the buttercream frosting. As a note, I find that frosting is a very subjective area. Some people like a little, some people like a lot. The recipe below makes enough for, on average, about twice the amount of cupcakes you’ll be making, so you can easily halve the recipe. I've tried it, and found that I was panicking about running out of frosting on the last few cupcakes. Too much is always better than not enough!
As with the cupcakes above, this is a great “basic” frosting that’s very easy to add other flavours to. The version here is vanilla.
500g (one box) icing sugar
250g (one block) unsalted butter
1tsp vanilla extra
The most important thing in getting an excellent buttercream is having the butter be very, very soft. Ideally you can leave it out overnight, or take it out first thing in the morning for making later. If you forget, you can soften it in the microwave, on the lowest setting, running it for about 10 seconds at a time.
It needs to be soft, but NOT melted. Any melting and your buttercream won’t turn out right, so be very careful if you’re using this method.
To begin, beat the butter until soft and pale, for about a minute or so. Then, add your icing sugar; batches of a third at a time seem about right. This will be messy, so be prepared to accept that. Cleaning up is all part of the fun, right? Right! After all of the sugar is blended, add the vanilla and beat until fluffy. This will probably take longer than you think, but about five minutes is a good guide.
You’ll know that it’s set when you can spoon a bit up and it’s firm, yet fluffy. Be aware that the sugar and fats in the butter will firm up once it settles and make a really pleasing firm outer layer with a soft, fluffy icing beneath.
Now that your cupcakes have cooled, and the frosting is ready to go, it’s time to assemble. If you’re making them as in the picture, just cut them in half, about halfway up or a little higher (they’re easier to stack if you cut about a 1/3 of the way from the top).
Spread the bottom half with a layer of your jam of choice. I used strawberry in my version. Now, spread a good layer of buttercream frosting on the underside of the top half, and then simply sandwich the two halves together.
Once you’ve assembled them all, set them back on your cooling sheet, and dust the tops with a good dusting of icing sugar. Voila!
The Lemon version
For the sponge, add a few teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest to the batter, along with about a teaspoon of lemon extract (in addition to the vanilla). I prefer a nice, natural, Sicilian Lemon Extract for an authentic lemony goodness.
To the frosting, add another teaspoon of the vanilla extract (in addition to the vanilla), and a few drops of yellow food colouring at the end. You’ll want to use this sparingly, as a pale yellow is generally more pleasing than a bright, glaring version.
That’s all there is to it, and the lemon cupcakes turn out light, fluffy, and as Summery-fresh as you could hope for. Enjoy!
So… It’s safe to say that I’m very much a newbie blogger, and as such have been a little shy about self promoting in the belief that there’s no point telling anyone this blog is here until there’s a respectable amount of stuff to look at (one recipe does not an interesting blog make!) After posting up my Haggis Spring Rolls recipe last weekend, I thought I’d tweet Macsween about it and hoped that, at best, they might like it enough to retweet me and I’d get a few more people popping by here.
Not only did the very very lovely people there retweet me, but they emailed me to say how much they liked the look of my spring rolls, and could they send me some of their delicious noms! To say I was giddy with glee at getting such a response (and offer!) is an understatement, the more so because I picked up the email after having a wisdom tooth taken out and it put a much needed grin on my poor sore face 🙂
And then the delicious noms arrived…
Look at the size of that box! And a lovely canvas bag too (Tim Minchin would be so proud!)
HOW much noms??
And a little bit of everything too! Variety is the spice of life!
Thank you again, Macsween! Like I didn’t already <3 you enough!