Happy New Year I hope you’ve had a good one so far! I spent the first day of 2015 curled up on my sofa surviving one of the worst hangovers of my life, the clinging remainder of a fantastic (Mexican themed) see off to a brilliant year. I love this time of year, even when my head is throbbing, my stomach is churning and my noisy upstairs neighbour are grinding down my last nerve. It feels so fresh and full of promise, and as a bonafide resolution junky I can get the best fix of the year. The past few years I have extensively shared my plans for the new year (read about 2014/2013/2012) so to ring the changes this time I will only share one, my big aim for 2015 (which isn’t that bold or difficult!) is to cook a recipe from each of my (currently) 56 cookbooks. You can see the full list here - and I will be sharing the results via instagram for the next 52 weeks! I knocked the first one out on Sunday, and it was so delicious that I remade it the following day too.
One of the things my job requires me to be able to do is to learn how to make something at the drop of the hat. For Marks and Spencers it was old fashioned fudge, for the Telegraph it was gluten free pastry. It’s stressful and sometimes hopeless, but it suits my short attention span, and every week is a new adventure. So hopefully this resolution will not only get me passed aimlessly perusing my collection of books (they have to count for more that just a good workout whenever I move house) and I will pick up a new skill or two along the way. So next time an editor calls the night before a shoot to yet again change the object for the next days shoot I will feel a little more prepared.
So I may have lied slightly, and I’m going to veer into sharing another of my resolutions, eat more fruit and vegetables. Ok, maybe it’s not that new a resolution as I have mentioned it many many times. As soon as I start mentioning healthy eating the you can almost guarantee that there will be a glut of varying shades of browning bananas hanging out in our fruit bowl. I start with the best intention in the world of eating almond milk porridge with just a sprinkle of pink salt and sliced banana every morning, but by the end of the week my resolve has softened.
Brown bananas mean one thing… BANANA BREAD!! Sweet sticky slices of absolute pure comfort. My favourite way to spend a wet and blustery winters afternoon is cocooned in a duvet with a pot of tea and a few slices of banana bread. In the spirit of my Amsterdam adventure last year (and in the hope that 2015 will bring more exciting travel) I added a little dutch spice which was kindly sent to me last year. Wintery spices like cloves and cinnamon are banana breads best friend, adding a warm dimension to the sweet cake which will have you immediately reaching for a second slice.
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makes one loaf recipe by Jennifer Brown
85ml flavourless oil (I used rapeseed) plus extra for greasing
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed
200g caster sugar
2 tbsp treacle
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Speculaas spice or ½ tsp ground cloves ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
170g plain flour plus extra for dusting
50g walnuts (optional)
- Start by preheating the oven to 160C (fan) and greasing and dusting a 2lb loaf tin - this is my favourite.
- In a large bowl whisk together the mashed bananas, oil, sugar, treacle, vanilla and spices. Whisk until slightly lighter in colour, which takes about a minute.
- Sift in the bicarbonate of soda and flour, add a pinch of salt and fold together using a wooden spoon. If adding walnuts stir through. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for an hour. If after about 35-40 minute the top looks dark brown you can cover with foil to stop the top from burning. When cooked an inserted skewer should come out with only a few crumbs attached.
- Store in an airtight container. Serving suggestion, whipped cream and crushed walnuts.