Niamh Doherty

Banana Bread

In Baking on May 9, 2010 at 12:02

I adore this recipe. Love it, worship it, want to marry it – and I don’t even like bananas. The fact that it contains bananas, raisins and pecan nuts make me feel virtuously healthy when eating it –  I tell myself that, the more of it I eat, the closer I get to one of my five-a-day. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, oh no…

My paternal grandfather always buttered the slice of fruit cake he was about to eat, and I continue the tradition by slathering my still-warm slice of banana bread with gorgeous Irish butter. I can’t remember if this is something I picked up from watching him, or if it’s genetic, but I do remember, at the age of about 8, being served slices of Christmas cake when visiting relatives, and my father and aunt bursting into peals of laughter when I asked for butter. Like grandfather, like granddaughter…

You need some very ripe bananas for this recipe, and I purposely scour supermarkets for overly ripe bananas on sale. When I have to buy a fresh bunch, I pick the ripest in the whole shop, watch their progress from yellow to speckled to brown with glee. Rage descends when I find that another hungry soul has gotten to them first, their appetite coming between me and my favourite tea bread.

Although this is called banana bread, it’s more like a cake, or a fruit loaf. Either way, I cannot think of anything better to have with a cup of hot tea, except for, well, another slice. If you are taking your first, tentative steps into the world of baking, or, indeed, into your kitchen, this is the best place to start. The only tools you need are a large bowl, a wooden spoon and a loaf tin, and you’re set. The smell of this wafting through your kitchen makes you feel like a proper, 1950’s housewife, all freshly-pressed pinny, high heels, and red lipstick, and is just the thing to boost the nervous cook’s confidence.

This recipe is taken from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, by the lovely Nigella Lawson. Even if you don’t cook, but love to read, I urge you to buy one of her books. When I am in need of comfort, I flip through one of her books in bed. Never mind her recipes; her prose alone is enough to feed the soul.

Naturally, I’ve made some slight changes to this recipe. Nigella stipulates soaking the sultanas in rum, but seeing as I hardly ever have rum in the house, I use orange juice instead. I did soak the dried fruit in Captain Morgan’s Spiced on one occasion, but I think I actually prefer the orange juice. I use raisins instead of sultanas, and pecans instead of walnuts to suit my own taste. Feel free to revert to the original if that’s what you fancy. It doesn’t matter what you use; what matters is that you make this. Soon. You and those lucky enough to be given a slice will be thankful.

Banana Bread (adapted slightly from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, by Nigella Lawson)


100g raisins

75ml orange juice

175g plain flour

2tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

125g butter, melted

150g sugar

2 large eggs

300g mashed weight of bananas

60g broken pecans

1tsp vanilla extract

loaf tin, lined with a baking paper (bossy note – you MUST line your cake tin. Yes, yes; I know, I used to think that life was too short to sieve flour or line tins, but it takes a hell of a lot longer to chip stubbornly baked-on cake from the bottom of a tin than it does to rip off a piece of parchment paper and fling it in, so just line the damn thing)


1. Put the raisins and orange juice into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to stand for up to an hour. When the raisins have absorbed most of the liquid, drain and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 170 Celcius/Gas Mark 3. Mix the flour, baking powder and bicarb in a medium-sized bowl and mix well.

3. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then the mashed banana.

4. Stir in the pecans, raisins and vanilla extract.

5. Finally, add the flour mixture, one-third at a time, stirring well after each addition. Scrape the mixture into your (prepared!) loaf tin, and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1h15mins. When it’s cooked, a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean-ish, without too much sticky cake mixture on it.

6. Allow to cool (slightly) in the tin – you can be boiling the kettle and making a brew as it cools – before cutting into thick slices and slathering with butter. I love this with a cup of tea as a post-breakfast “dessert”, elevenses, mid-afternoon pick-me-up or pre-bedtime snack. Honestly, I wouldn’t turn it down  at any hour of the day.

  1. yum, your banana bread looks so yummy, i want to reach in and grab a slice!

  2. Thanks Char! It didn’t last long, I have to say!

  3. I am gonna try this with cranberries and roasted almonds this weekend for the kids. It sounds yummy!

  4. […] bites that I’ve made before. For sale will be Lemon Squares, Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies and Banana Bread, along with Peanut Butter and Snickers muffins, White Chocolate and Raspberry muffins, Cranberry […]

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