Friday, 17 May 2013

Baking challenge #25: Mary Berry's banana loaf

Mary Berry's banana loaf, as made by EJ
I've made many a banana loaf in my time, but never settled on a definitive recipe - it's one of those bakes that I tend to freestyle, depending very much on the ingredients I have in my store cupboard. There are usually a few constants to my banana bread - I use the sweetness of the bananas and some chopped dried fruit in lieu of most of the sugar, adding only a very small amount of sugar (usually a soft brown sugar) to complement the fruit, I usually mash one banana and stir slices of banana through the mixture just before baking to add some more texture - I am also a big fan of a little cinnamon in my banana bread. So, comparatively - Mary Berry's banana loaf is refreshingly simple - with mashed banana blended into the mixture as the only flavour added.

Banana loaf
The recipe is just as easy as you'd expect a banana loaf to be, the only part which I think could throw some people off is Berry's description of the loaf tin - 900g (2lb). Traditionally a loaf tin is sold by the weight of the loaf it will produce, however, these days, not all are labelled as such - and I'd hazard a guess that many versions are no longer standardised. There are a couple of different methods cited on the web of how you can check the capacity of your loaf tin, Nikki Duffy of The Guardian, suggests filling the tin with water, according to Duffy, a 900g tin will hold 1.5 litres and a 450g tin holds around 800ml. But my 900g loaf tin holds only 1 litre of water. Other sources cite approximate dimensions, which can also be confusing - as the shape of the tin will affect this. If you are unsure if your tin is exactly the right size, just make sure you don't overfill it with the banana bread mixture. Remember that Mary Berry uses self raising flour and baking powder in this recipe - so it will rise significantly.

The banana loaf tastes great - and isn't as sweet as I thought it would be. Browned on the outside and pale on the inside, the texture is consistent and just moist enough - it's a good loaf to eat as it is, or toasted with butter. Mary Berry also says it freezes well - so it's a good one to make in advance.

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