Banana bread-cake

Since this blog is mostly about language, I thought about introducing this post with a remark about food being the language of love, or baking being the language of the kitchen. But that would be corny, and unnecessary: who needs an excuse to spread a good recipe?

Some years ago I tried a simple recipe for banana bread that worked well and painlessly and allowed for various adaptations. Over the years so many people called it “banana cake” that I began to wonder about its true nature. The option (usually taken) of a chocolate layer underscores its cakey credentials, but for a cake it is unusually nutritious. So I think of it as a hybrid and I call it “banana bread”, “banana cake”, or “banana bread-cake”. You may call it what you like.

The ingredient quantities are double the original quantities because I usually make two bread-cakes at a time: one for me and whoever is around, and one for some other person or household. Although this adds a few minutes to the baking time, on balance it wastes significantly less energy and allows more satisfaction to be distributed.

4 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
0.5 teaspoons of salt
1 cup of butter
1.5 cups of brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
4–6 bananas, mashed
Handfuls of nuts, seeds, mixed fruit
Cooking chocolate (dark is good)

Notes on ingredients:
General: I don’t weigh the ingredients, and I tend to experiment a bit with proportions and additions, so it’s very slightly different each time. At the moment “1 cup” corresponds to the central vessel here, placed for relative scale between a glass tumbler and a pint tankard:

Stan Carey - banana bread cake 1
Flour: Typically I use about 3 or 3½ cups of plain flour to 1 or ½ cup of wholewheat flour. Too much wholewheat and the bread-cake loses taste and lightness; too little and I can’t pretend the results are as healthy as they might be.

Butter: This can be salted or unsalted, depending on dietary preferences. Both work fine.

Bananas: The riper the better for taste, nutrition, and ease of mashing. Number depends on size: 4 large, 5 average, 6 small. Too much banana makes the bread soggy, too little and the taste of banana becomes faint. Either way, worse things have happened.

Eggs: Always free-range for the sake of our feathered friends.

Nuts (e.g. almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts, cashew nuts – broken to suit), seeds (e.g. sesame, pumpkin) and mixed fruit are optional. Other optional ingredients are cinnamon, vanilla, wheat germ, or whatever takes your fancy. Of the nuts, walnuts work particularly well.

1. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl:

Stan Carey - banana bread cake 2

2. In another bowl, blend the butter and brown sugar:

Stan Carey - banana bread cake 3
Stir in the beaten eggs and mashed bananas until well mixed. If you like, add nuts, seeds and mixed fruit:

Stan Carey - banana bread cake 4
3. Add this mixture to the flour mixture, and stir just enough to mix the lot:

Stan Carey - banana bread cake 5
Butter two 9×5-inch bread pans, and pour the mix into them. Sprinkle some more seeds on top:

Stan Carey - banana bread cake 6
4. Cover with aluminium foil and bake in a fan-assisted oven pre-heated to 175°C (approx. 350°F) for 60–65 minutes, or sometimes a little longer – until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean and not sticky.

5. Let the bread-cakes stand in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack (or a grill):

Stan Carey - banana bread cake 7

Stan Carey - banana bread cake 8
6. Serve and enjoy hot, or allow to cool then pour chocolate on top:

Stan Carey - banana bread cake 9

This last photo is hopelessly out of focus; I may replace it in due course. In theory, the banana bread-cake remains edible for several days. It goes fine with butter, jam or other spreads, but these are not necessary, especially if you added chocolate. It’s ideal for breakfast, lunch, after dinner, in the evening, on a picnic, on the move, at a party, or as part of a midnight snack.

If you try it, let me know how you get on, and please feel free to suggest further additions or adaptations.


26 Responses to Banana bread-cake

  1. Claudia says:

    It certainly looks tempting. I will try the recipe. For the last 5 years, because I needed what is called heartsmart cooking, I’ve been substituting vegetable oil to butter, and using more wholewheat flour than plain. But I’ll do the Stan Bread as you’re presenting it. Although I will add the 3 tablespoons of rhum a French Chef, Pol Martin, suggests. It truly gives zest to a Banana Cake, and the bonus is that you have the duty to check the rhum’s quality by swallowing a few sips while you’re mixing the ingredients. Will report to you, Sir.

  2. Stan says:

    Claudia: I’ve never substituted vegetable oil for butter – maybe it would work fine. I don’t know much about baking. If it is more “heartsmart”, don’t feel obliged to stick to the directions I listed. Nor have I ever added rum (or even Guinness), but I may try that some day. Thank you for the suggestion!

  3. Looks good. I make something similar (with walnuts, without chocolate) in colourful bun-cases for the children. Squashing bananas makes them feel grown-up and helpful.

  4. Stan says:

    ‘Squashing bananas makes them feel grown-up and helpful.’

    Me too, Mise. Forgoing chocolate is probably a good idea, because once you start adding chocolate it becomes difficult to not add chocolate. But I never thought to make banana bread-buns, and now I can’t stop imagining them, and wondering what they would be like with icing on top and a mug of tea beside them.

  5. Claudia says:

    I wish you could smell your Banana Bread, and taste it. It looks exactly as your photos. I didn’t change one ingredient, and didn’t add the rhum. I was afraid that a bit more liquid might spoil the result.

    After heart surgery (2004), I was advised to buy Bonnie Stern: Heartsmart Cooking Books. I looked at the recipes. It was so boring! I decided then that I wouldn’t probably bake anymore, and I gave away many pots and pans to a young friend.

    I had totally forgotten that! So there I was, at 11 am, with two possible banana breads, and no pans to pour the mixture in! I called my neighbour. We’re mostly all seniors in the building, and very helpful in emergency situations. I promised her one superb treat for the loan of two pans. Thanks Heaven! I didn’t miss…

    Twenty minutes ago, we just had tea and hot slices of the great Stan Bread. I also gave her the second cake, and a copy of your post. Of course, on Monday, I’ll refurbish my cupboard, bake again to surprise my son, and his friends, who taught me the use of the Internet.

    Lots of fun! My mother (who always used butter) would have approved of your recipe. It makes a big difference.

    Merci! Avec le plus beau compliment que l’on puisse faire à un Chef, en dégustant son oeuvre,: Ma langue sourit.

  6. Sean Jeating says:

    Hm … third visit since August 4th.
    … and more than ever I am determined to try my best next weekend (the bananas have already been bought); in the hope it will be good enough ha ha ha.

    Ah, promised: Never I shall blaim the recipe in case my experiment fails.
    On the contrary: I shall try again.

    And I shall let you know the different tongues’ and palates’ opinion.

    Very interesting recipe, Stan. Thank you.

  7. Stan says:

    Et ma bouche et mes yeux sourient, Claudia! I’m delighted to hear that after the drama of having no pans, you were able to enjoy the bread. Thank you so much for reporting back. I hope your neighbour feels she got her just des(s)erts for lending you the bread pans. Now that you know what the basic recipe results in, you can compare it with your own modified versions in the future.

    Sean: I know that Seanhenge is a busy place. Don’t put yourself under any recipe-related pressure! Luckily bananas are a versatile food, and can be usefully refrigerated.

  8. Claudia says:

    And I’m laughing too…

    Le Professeur, having (for one short moment) played at being a Chef, returned speedily to his role of language monitor. I truly enjoyed your pun and your link. Of course, I would have spelled dessert, whether for punishment or reward.

  9. ZombieZoidberg says:

    Mmmm…banana bread-cake

  10. Stan says:

    *passes ZombieZoidberg an extra-absorbent napkin*

  11. Ellen Dudley says:

    Hey Stan, just munching on your banana bread/cake as I type, its yum! I used wholegrain spelt flour, xylobrit (xylitol) and soya butter, added walnuts and dried cranberries, and its delish!

    Perfect solution for my browning bananas!

  12. Stan says:

    Ellen: That sounds like a very tasty variation! Healthier than mine, too. I might try Xylitol sometime, and I will definitely add dried cranberries, but I would take some convincing to use soya butter – especially after a recently abandoned experiment with soya milk. In any case I’m delighted to hear you tried it out and adapted it to suit. Enjoy!

  13. Claudia says:

    I’m at my third batch now. This time, I plan to add 1 cup of chocolate chips to the ingredients. Doing it for my grandson who is visiting (from Manitoba) for the first time next week. He is 6. I’ve been warned that he has a ferocious appetite. Will serve it with ice cream, and cherries on top. Can’t miss….

  14. Stan says:

    Third batch? Claudia, you put me to shame. It has been many weeks since I made any. But the next time I do, I will be spoilt for choice with new ideas. Cranberries, rum, bun-sized mini-bread-cakes, cherries and ice cream: the possibilities are mouth-watering…

    I hope your grandson enjoys his lucky treat!

  15. Sean Jeating says:

    After all – Friday evening I did it, Stan.
    Ingredients: grounded hazelnuts, coarsely grounded walnuts, dried cranberries, sesam, grated chocolate and a shot of amaretto.
    Taste: sheer poetry.
    Thanks a lot for the recipe. I am already looking forward to next Friday evening.

  16. Stan says:

    That sounds great, Sean! Presumably the hazelnuts were from the garden at Seanhenge – were there other homegrown ingredients? Amaretto has a distinctive and not unpleasant flavour; I have added it to the growing list of possible future ingredients.

  17. Claudia says:

    I think that what really poetise one’s cooking is when one shares the same characteristic than one’s homegrown product. I will try to plant a nut tree in my solarium…Aren’t you proud of your many disciples, Stan? With a big smile, much love and gratitude. :)

  18. Claudia says:

    And I passed the test. The grandson is here and loves the Banana Cake. I guess I can relax now…Thanks again, Stan.

  19. Stan says:

    Claudia: I’m so glad to hear it. In some respects, children are the best judges. When I wrote the post I didn’t expect anyone to go to the trouble of trying the recipe, though I felt that maybe someone would. Evidently I underestimated my readers’ passion for baking! I won’t take credit for any of the ensuing effort. The recipe was not mine to begin with, though I came to love adapting it slightly, and I could not resist sharing it both manually and digitally.

  20. eileen doran says:

    ibaked abanana cake and it went allsoggy that is twice that happened what is wrong

  21. Stan says:

    I couldn’t say for sure, Eileen. It may need less banana, or a little more time in the oven. Good luck!

  22. wisewebwoman says:

    I got your recipe from a link that Sean posted as he sat mesmerized by a picture I posted on my blog, thanks Stan, it sounds wondrous. I have cut and pasted into my handy-dandy recipe file.

  23. Stan says:

    WWW: I’m happy to hear it, and I’m sure the recipe is in mouth-watering company in your file!

  24. […] why is my banana bread soggy? [You wouldn’t believe how often I'm asked this. Possibly too many bananas, or not enough time in the […]

  25. Debbie karp says:

    Can 2 teaspoons of baking soda ruin banan cake that called for only one
    ( put into 4 Tb. of sour cream. ) no baking powder in recipe and only 1 1/2 cups flour

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