Peel It: Banana Bread

With the government telling us all we need to go on a diet, perhaps writing yet another baked good recipe isn’t the best idea but I’ve never been one to follow rules…

Banana bread, like many quickbreads, sits neatly in the gap between cake and bread. See also muffins. They’re sweet enough to enjoy as a treat with a coffee any time of the day, but hold their own as breakfast too.

Americans have made quickbreads their own – you can make any saggy old fruit or vegetable into a quickbread (I class carrot cake, especially if it’s un-frosted, as a kind of quickbread) – apart from banana and courgette bread, I’ve also made apple bread, pumpkin bread….there’s also sweet potato bread, even strawberry bread. Beer bread is also extremely good though that definitely sits firmly in ‘bread’ category. So it’s fitting that this recipe comes from America; measurements and all; indeed it’s a light rework of Betty Crocker’s, (which according to their site was first published in 1961) and I’ve been a touch unorthodox and used Skyr, which is a very thick Icelandic yoghurt-like dairy product (technically a type of soft cheese but you can find it in the yoghurt section at the supermarket). If you can’t get hold of Skyr, use any yoghurt you desire. I added the extra lemon juice just to ensure it would help the bread rise, and to slacken the Skyr a bit.

It’s extremely easy – wet into dry and bake.

Many like to augment their banana breads with chocolate chips/fruit/nuts etc….I’m a purist. I want to taste the bananas in it. So mine is resolutely plain (though coffee works as an interesting flavour partner and certainly pushes it much further into breakfast territory).  I admit the crust is on the dark side though. You can also do this in two smaller loaf tins, just reduce the baking time accordingly and check after 45 minutes. As soon as a toothpick/tester comes out clean..done.


Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup sunflower oil

2 eggs

3-4 very ripe bananas

1/2 cup Skyr (Icelandic thick fat free yoghurt but any kind will do)

2 tsp lemon juice

2 1/2 cups plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp fine salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F (I have an oven thermometer but if you don’t, 350 is just under 180C), and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin (or two 1lb ones) with a sheet of parchment to enable easy lifting out later.
2. In one bowl place the flour, salt and bicarb.
3. In another, mash the bananas as finely or as coarsely as you like, before breaking in the eggs and adding the oil, skyr, lemon juice and sugar. Whisk until combined.
4. Scrape the wet ingredients into the dry and combine as quickly as you can, making sure no lumps of flour remain – it’s quite a thick batter.
5. Spoon and scrape into the tin(s) and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. If using two smaller tins, check after 45 minutes.
6. Leave to cool in tin(s) on a wire rack (I left mine overnight as I baked it in the evening for the next day’s breakfast) before lifting out and cuitting into slices. Wrap in cling film to keep fresh.

Oatside The Box: Banana, Raspberry and Oat Crumble

I’ve made allusions to it before but aside from Queen Nigella, my other food hero is Jack Monroe. Most of us know their story, so I won’t retell it here. Having had to severely yank my purse strings of late, I’ve been feverishly re-reading their blog (my copy of A Girl Called Jack sadly didnt move house with me as I felt it was better left behind for my ex-partner’s stepdad, who isn’t that tech savvy and unlike me won’t necessarily get online to Jack’s blog to find a recipe like I would) in an attempt to get myself back into the pleasure of cooking cheaply again.

To cut a long story short, re-reading Jack’s recipes has lit the fire under me again and whilst I take a week’s sabbatical from the gym whilst we are battered by this heinous weather (un-necessary journeys from the house etc…excuses excuses…anyway) I’ve been able to meal plan and just find that extra time to get inspired. Jack was able to create healthy and delicious recipes out of necessity in hideous financial circumstances, and I know I can too.

I really fancied a proper dessert but one that wasn’t too much work or required any extra shopping. I mentally listed what fruit I had in (bananas, two golden delicous apples, some blackberries in the freezer from September and some frozen raspberries). I’d already earmarked the apples and blackberries for a kuchen this coming weekend (from Nigella Bites) so that left…bananas and raspberries – which I usually have in for post-gym smoothies….but as I’m not gymming this week..

The lightbulb clicked on – would they work together as an unorthodox base for a crumble? Tart fruits after all are the best choice for crumbles, and Nigella has done jumbleberry and strawberry ones before….perfect! The bananas will just add a good hit of starchy sweetness that will work wonders with the fragrant sharpness of the berries.

Although it’s very much in the Cooking On A Bootstrap line of thinking, this recipe is loosely based upon Nigella’s excellent Ruby Red Plum And Amaretti crumble (one of the few ways you can make long-haul, imported, billiard-ball plums edible); indeed you could take further inspiration from that if you like and in place of the amaretti biscuits, bash up some custard creams as their sweet vanilla flavour would work extremely well alongside the raspberries.

A crumble is a quintessential British pud, and in weather like this, ideal. When I first came up with this idea when at work, I initially planned to use some of the nicer things out my storecupboard (buckwheat flour, sesame seeds etc) but actually, I thought it’d be better to strip it back a bit and make it more austere, so anyone who may not have such fancy things knocking about can have a go.  Although I used frozen raspberries as I had a bag and a half in the freezer, feel free to use whatever frozen berries fit your budget. And as long as you have roughly 300g of them and sliced bananas, it doesn’t matter what your banana-berry ratio is – I used two medium bananas and just added enough raspberries to make up the weight.

I originally planned to save my flour and use all-oats, ground to a flour in the blender, but when I came to rub the marg into the ground oats, it just clumped so I had to add some regular wheat flour to break it up a bit.


Final note: it isn’t overly sweet, as bananas can be very sweet anyway but you adjust the sugar to your own taste. Also it doesn’t make a lot of juice so also add more liquid to the fruit before you put the topping on if you like your crumbles juicier.


Banana, Raspberry And Oat Crumble



300g sliced bananas and frozen berries

2 tbsp lemon juice

1tbsp sugar (or to taste)

For the crumble topping:

100g porridge oats, blitzed to as fine as you can get them, plus an additional 25g, left as they are.

3 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

50g margarine

2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)


1. Preheat oven to 190C.

2. Lightly oil an ovenproof dish, not too deep if possible.

3. Slice the banana(s) and fling into the dish along with the frozen berries and the lemon juice (sidenote: if you have Scotch whiskey knocking about, why not add a wee nip or two of that as this crumble has got a faint Scottish flavour about it!), mix lightly to try and evenly disperse the banana coins. Sprinkle with sugar.

4. In a bowl, mix the ground oats with the baking powder and the flour, before rubbing in the margarine until you get something that looks like slightly fatty oatmeal (well, it sort-of is!). Fork in the sugar and the whole oats.

5. Place this mix on top of the fruit, starting at the edges before filling up in the middle. It doesn’t have to be evenly covered.

6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and the crimson juices start bubbling through the sandy topping. If you can bear it, leave for 15 minutes before doling out, greed-satisyfingly, into bowls with custard or cream – I was lucky to pick up some reduced Jersey double cream on the day I made it so I had it with that.