Me: So, can I please have the sautéed mushrooms with dukkah and goats cheese and a strong soy cappuccino.
Sister 1: I’ll have the baked beans and a skinny latte please
Waitress: sure, no problem
Sister 2: And I’d also like the baked beans, but with no feta, plus a poached egg and a soy latte thanks
Me: and then for breakfast-dessert we’ll have the gingerbread with poached plums and mascarpone
Waitress(eyebrows raised in judgemental disbelief): huh? Breakfast what now?
...and so it goes, most Saturday mornings.
I’ve never understood why breakfast is the only meal of the day when it’s unacceptable to have dessert. Want a brownie with your post-lunch espresso? Go for it! Scoop of ice-cream on the couch after dinner? By all means! Gingerbread and poached plums after poached eggs? You must be mad!
You see, I never want a full sweet breakfast – the thought of going out and ordering bircher muesli makes me shudder – I can soak my own oats in apple juice thank you very much! But I do like something sweet in the mornings, thus breakfast-dessert was born.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we order a slice of Bailey’s cheesecake each at 9am (urgh, who would ever eat Bailey’s cheesecake, but I digress!) we tend to share one sweet dish off the menu after our eggs. That sweet thing often tends to be banana cake, or bread – if you want to delude yourself that because something is shaped like a loaf it’s not full of butter and sugar.
Banana bread is fairly ubiquitous on breakfast menus in Melbourne – some incarnations with spiced honey labne, pistachios and poached rhubarb (for example) are more adventurous than others, but generally, all are delicious, and make a perfect sweet ending to breakfast.
Banana bread is also incredibly easy, and should by no means be something that is only eaten in cafes. Everyone should have a foolproof, quick and easy banana bread recipe at home for when they don’t quite get through that bunch of bananas before they get overly brown. In fact, to be honest, I usually buy more bananas than we could possibly eat in a week just so I can make banana bread (or choc-banana ice-cream.)
This recipe is from Stephanie Alexander’s bible The Cook’s Companion which I love, love, love! (Did I mention I love it?!) I have tinkered with the recipe a bit – largely health-ing it up a tad, using much less sugar, substituting some of the flour for wholemeal and reducing the butter a bit to make it a more versatile, every day cake. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best versions of banana bread out there - it’s not only the perfect breakfast-dessert, it’s also a delicious afternoon snack with a cup of tea, a breakfast in itself toasted and topped with a blob of greek yogurt or even a bit of a sneaky light lunch smeared with some ricotta and sprinkled with extra cinnamon – the possibilities are endless!
So head out, buy some bananas, twiddle your fingers while they go nice and brown and mushy, then make yourself some breakfast-dessert at home, and avoid the judgemental raised eyebrows of the waitress at a cafe near you.
Breakfast dessert banana bread
100g softened unsalted butter
1 cup of raw sugar (normal sugar would work fine too)
3 medium overripe bananas mashed
1/2tsp pure vanilla
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour (you could just as easily use 2 cups plain - but not 2 cups wholemeal)
1 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger(you could also use allspice or a tiny pinch of nutmeg)
1/2 cup of plain yogurt or buttermilk (you can make buttermilk easily by putting 1Tbs lemon juice in 1 cup of milk and leaving for 10mins)
Preheat oven to 180c and butter and flour your chosen baking tin. I used a 25cm loaf tin.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy and pale - if you're using raw sugar it won't get as pale as normal sugar.
Beat in banana, vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture alternately with yogurt/buttermilk.
Stir until combined.
Pour into your tin you are using and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until cake tests clean when skewered. My oven leaves a lot to be desired and it usually takes my cake at least an hour.
The top should be nice and brown and a bit cracked - you can always tent with foil if the top is getting too brown.
Cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
Cool completely before storing in an airtight container - alternatively, you can slice it up and freeze it for easy long term access!
P.S. I realise I owe you a photo, but it's been a month since I last posted and banana bread waits for no one. I promise next post will have at least 2 photos to make up for the omission