I can never have enough bananas in my house. And despite the fact that there is usually a bunch sitting on my bench, always taking too long to ripen for smoothie, soft-serve, butter rum or porridge purposes, I don’t part with them lightly. It’s not uncommon for my father-in-law to request a banana snack when visiting, and my response of “yes, absolutely have a banana”, never comes as fast as it should. Because I need them, you see. There’s always something banana-based to be blitzed or baked, and as much as I adore mulberries, quince, peaches and rhubarb, if I had to choose one fruit I would yell BANANA without skipping a beat. I need to be nicer. Or maybe just buy more bananas.
Recently I hid bananas from loved ones long enough enough to allow the fruit to age and sweeten perfectly for banana bread. Do you like banana bread? I’d bet confidently on the fact that most people do. It’s cake in loaf form, and is often served without icing or any decoration that would make a slice for breakfast seem inappropriate. About four years ago I went a little nuts on banana bread, ordering it whenever I had the chance, even if it was surely a subpar slice because BANANA! I maxed out, oooooh yeah I did, and bananas were henceforth relegated to other dish duties. Some years later, after easing off the preparation and waiting patiently for the craving to come tumbling back in, it’s time for banana bread once more. And here we are with a very lovely loaf.
Spelt flour was a natural addition to the bananas in this loaf, as we know I favour it in baking. Honey, too, as I try to avoid more refined sugars when possible. Googling banana bread recipes that used spelt and honey lead me to a fabulous version on Cookie + Kate, which served as my major inspiration in making this loaf. One Friday morning a few weeks ago, I noticed that the bananas were ready, brown and begging to be baked. And so I clapped my hands and mashed them into bread with extra virgin olive oil. I flirted with the idea of using yoghurt too, but felt I might end up with something too yoghurt cake-like, which, while I dearly appreciate in its own right, was not what I was going for here. So I kept it simple, only a little cinnamon and a touch of vanilla.
The result is a loaf that is all the clichés I want in a banana bread and none that I don’t. It has substance, with keen banana chunks and spelt power, but at the same time this is a light loaf, with a fluffy interior and dreamy, pronounced crumb. The crust is sticky, sweet and chewy…
There’s a lot of goodness here.
On this morning we served hedonistically thick slices of fresh banana bread with tart natural yoghurt and stewed rhubarb. And in a move that felt so right though was entirely unnecessary, we flash pan-fried our slices in butter. A more humble serving, plain or perhaps with a pat of butter or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, is also lovely. Especially when warm from the oven, but we already knew that.
Thank goodness for bananas.
Banana Bread with Spelt and Honey
Only very slightly adapted from Cookie + Kate’s Honey Whole Wheat Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf
1 & 1/2 cups Spelt Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
pinch ground Cinnamon
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Honey (or maple syrup)
1 cup mashed Bananas (~215g weight skin off = ~2 medium bananas)
1/4 cup Milk
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
Option: an extra banana sliced in half lengthways and placed on top
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line a 20cm x 10cm loaf tin, with baking paper hanging over the edges so you can lift it out easily.
2. Sift the spelt flour and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and cinnamon and stir to aerate and combine.
3. Beat the olive oil and honey together in a separate bowl. Add the eggs and beat well. Mash the bananas into the mixture, then add in the milk and vanilla and stir to combine.
4. Fold the wet ingredients through the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth the surface with the moistened back of a spoon or spatula.
5. Bake in your hot oven for ~50-60 minutes, until a skewer inserted to the middle comes out clean (cover with foil at the 40ish minute mark if browning too quickly). Allow to cool in the tin for ~5 minutes before lifting out and cooling on a wire rack for a further 30 minutes before slicing.