There once was a caped crusader that fought crime wherever he went, who wore a blue suit, yellow cape and gloves, plus a slightly funny snood-type hat with pointy yellow ears on it. No, not Batman on dress-down Friday, nor Superman after mixing-the-wrong-colours whilst doing the weekly wash. No, it’s the one and only Bananaman!
Now, my girlfriend seems to think I’m some kind of modern day Bananaman. This isn’t because I’m a contemporary urban warrior, who has flown in and saved her from a life of tyranny, but because firstly, I’m quite enthusiastic about buying and keeping bananas, and secondly, because I have yellow (I prefer blond) hair, which apparently adds to the banana-likeness.
But for 22 years I didn’t touch a single banana, because sometime around my 11th Birthday, I decided that I didn’t like them any more. Then one morning on holiday a few years ago on Havelock Island, I ordered bananas with curd and muesli. As the trees around us were heavy with bananas, it would be safe to assume these bananas were very, very fresh and extremely locally sourced, and the little bananas that came out tasted fantastic. Suddenly I was a banana eater again.
I now eat bananas almost every single day at breakfast, which means co-ordinating the very serious business of the ripening cycle of bananas. Bananas have there states of ripeness I call green, ripe and cake. They are often purchased in the green state, which means they are full of starch, hence harder to digest and don’t taste as good. Once they are completely yellow, or yellow with brown dots, they are at their ripe state, ready to eat. This is the state I want my bananas in every day of the week. At this point I also start to look a little bit weird and obsessive by telling you about a very exciting present I got for my Birthday a few years ago… a banana bag.
Banana bags are cushioned bags to store your bananas in, then keep in the fridge, which slows down the speed of ripening so you can keep your bananas at optimum ripeness for longer. I have the Lakeland Banana Keep Fresh Drawstring Storage Bag and it’s brilliant for keeping bananas just
ripe, err, right.
Anyway, the final state of the banana, and THE WHOLE REASON FOR TYPING THIS POST is the stage I call ‘cake’. This can be a couple of weeks after purchase, once they’re dark brown all over, taste over-ripe and fall apart when you peel them leaving a really mushy flesh. This means all the starch has turned to sweet, sweet sugar so these ‘nanas are now perfect for baking with. If you want to make great tasting banana bread, then this is where your bananas need to be when you start cooking.
This banana bread recipe is based on a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi from his utterly fantastic book ‘Plenty More’. I have altered the recipe to include spelt flour, rather than wheat, which I think makes a really wholesome banana bread, and have also given a dairy free option.
Banana CryogenicsYou can also freeze bananas to use in future smoothies, milkshakes and other dishes. If you have a load that are not going to be used, peel them before they’re over-ripe, then bag them up in batches and and freeze them.
Spelt banana bread with tahini and honey
By Gavin Wren
300g lightly mashed banana flesh
275g soft light brown sugar
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
140ml milk – I used full fat goat milk, but you can use soya, almond etc.
70ml sunflower oil
140g wholemeal spelt flour
140g refined (white) spelt flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Butter or olive spread
Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking paper.
Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 10 minutes. When they’re done, take them out and roughly chop.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder, then set aside. In a jug, combine the milk, oil and salt and also set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the banana, sugar, egg and then mix with a handheld mixer. Slowly add the jug’s liquid contents whilst continuing to mix, making sure all the ingredients are well combined. Then, add the flour mixture, continuing to blend on a medium speed for about 5 minutes. Finally, stir through the pecans before pouring the mixture into your prepared tin.
Place the tin in the oven and cook for 1 hour 10 minutes, check with a skewer and if not cooked, return to the oven for 10 minutes at a time. Mine took about 1 hour 30 minutes. When cooked, remove from the oven, leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Once cooled, slice the banana bread, spread the butter on one side and put it under the grill until lightly toasted. Spread with tahini, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with salt. Yum.