I’m going to let you into a secret. I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen, trying new combinations of flours and flavours to make some tasty, healthy (ish) cakes using up food that would otherwise go to waste. And what did I conjure up? My bestest banana bread recipe, with coconut, pistachio and rye. Additional bonuses include an extra cake! This recipe is enough for 2 cakes, so you can freeze one for later or give it to a friend who needs a nutritious energy boost. It’s also low in sugar and gluten. (You could choose gluten free flour if you prefer.)
When my bananas are on the turn and almost ready for the bin I throw them in the freezer in their blacken skins to save for a later date. (Yes you can freeze bananas. Feel free to peel them first and pop them in a tupperware container first if you want to use them from frozen for smoothies or milkshakes, then you don’t even need to add ice cream for a chilled drink).
Once I have 3 black bananas stockpiled I whip up my Banana Bread. Leave your bananas to defrost for an hour or so before you peel them to make your banana bread, as if they’re too cold it will make your butter solidify and could give you denser cake and an uneven bake.
This is really quick to make. Basically beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Followed by your bananas, vanilla and eggs, then the combination of flours and baking powder. Finally beat in a handful of sultanas and chopped walnuts. This takes about 15 minutes with an electric mixer.
I use two 6 inch round tins to bake this recipe, or you could bake one large banana bread loaf if you prefer. Liberally sprinkle the cakes with chopped nuts (whatever you have to hand is fine). I use pistachios which gives you gorgeous green flecks singing out in between the flaked almonds and hazelnuts.
As the cake bakes the batter rises up and supports the nuts, holding them in place for the final cake. It’s also the perfect way to disguise any uneven finishes on your cake, if like me you have an unpredictably hot oven.
My initial experiments involved using 100% coconut flour, but this ended in disaster. I think coconut flour needs to be balanced against other nuttier flours (I like using rye flour but spelt or wholemeal would work well too) to absorb some of the natural oils and sugars and avoid the quick to burn, blackened mess that I made.
In less than an hour (50 minutes at 150 degrees c to be precise) you will produce two beautifully moist banana cakes, that are perfect accompanied by a large mug of strong tea, perhaps after a bracing stroll by the coast. I’m drooling just thinking of that sweet sponge and nutty crunch of a cake. Wonder how many bananas I have lurking in my freezer today…
Things I used to make my Bestest Banana Bread
- 125g margarine (or butter)
- 250g caster sugar
- 3 over ripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 100g coconut flour (or finely ground dessicated coconut if you can’t find the flour)
- 90g Rye Flour (or spelt or wholemeal) -NB: Spelt and Rye flours are not gluten free but may be more suitable to those who have a wheat intolerance. Use a wholemeal gluten free flour if you want to avoid gluten in this recipe.
- 60g plain flour (feel free to use gluten free flour)
- 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1tsp ground cassia (or cinnamon or mace)
- Handful of chopped sultanas
- Handful of chopped walnuts
- * Topping: (2 handful of chopped/flaked nuts: almonds, pistachio, walnuts, hazelnuts
- Beat together sugar and butter until fluffy
- Beat in bananas
- Beat in eggs one by one
- Beat in vanilla paste
- Beat in coconut, plain, rye flours and baking powder and spice
- Beat in sultanas and walnuts
- Pour into 2 greased 6 inch round tins (or one large loaf tin)
- Cover the top of each cake entirely with a layer of chopped nuts
- Bake for 50 mins at 150 degrees c (or until a skewer comes out clean)
My other banana based recipes are Fanny and Otto’s Fijian Banana Cake