A fresh crumb: banana bread

I was gifted Ruby Tandoh’s Crumb for Christmas, and it was a very welcome delight. During the winter I found myself in something of a baking rut, making the same few recipes again and again – which was fine, because it was the season for spicy gingerbread and yummy chocolate desserts! But it’s great to have a new source of inspiration. I was firmly on Team Ruby during Season 4 of ‘The Great British Bake Off’, and her first book is just as good as you might expect. So my new tactic for stymieing baking boredom is to work my way through my favourite recipes in Ruby’s book.

I’ve already made a list of what I want to bake, including soda bread, chocolate croissants, chocolate orange bourbons, butternut squash and mozzarella tarts, raspberry, whisky and oat cheesecake…be still my heart. But to begin the year, and for our first knitting session of 2015, I decided to start simple: with banana bread. As Ruby describes it, “Don’t be surprised if its sweet, deep banana scent draws you nose-first into the kitchen as it bakes”. She was right. Once it was done, I kept hoping it would taste as good as it smelled…and it really, really did.

Ruby’s recipe uses agave nectar and rum, but I didn’t have either of those, so I followed her suggestion for using caster sugar instead, and left out the rum. I think I may have overdone the loaf slightly, but that only gave it a nice crunchy crust, and any slightly darker areas were sweetened by the sugar glaze. This cake went down really well with my knitting pals, and what’s more, it was a breeze to put together. Easy, quick, delicious, heavenly-scented: definitely my kind of cake.

Banana bread
from Crumb by Rudy Tandoh

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Ingredients:
125g butter, softened
140g caster or light brown sugar
2 medium bananas, well mashed
2 tbsps rum or brandy (optional)
2 large eggs
190g plain flour
1½ tsps baking powder
1½ tsps ground cinnamon
4 cardamom pods, seeds only, crushed (optional)

For the glaze:
25ml water
100g icing sugar

– Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.

– Cream the butter then stir in the sugar. Beat in the bananas and rum or brandy (if using), then the eggs and a couple of tablespoons of the flour. Don’t worry if it looks a little curdled at this stage. Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder, cinnamon and cardamom (if using) in a separate bowl, then add this to the wet mixture. Fold the ingredients together then stir lightly until fully combined.

– Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean (mine only needed around 30, so keep an eye on it). While the cake is in the oven, make the glaze: stir the water into the icing sugar, a teaspoonful at a time, until combined. Set aside.

– Once the cake is done, let it cool in its tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or wire rack. Spoon the icing over the top of the cake while it’s still hot. The glaze will cover the top and run down the sides in thick rivulets, but will set to a cracked sugar glaze as the cake cools.

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