As we all know, you can never have too many banana bread recipes. This one varies slightly from the average as it contains cardamom and cocoa nibs. It’s a good one: not as sweet as a lot of banana breads and it feels more virtuous because it contains cocoa nibs rather than chocolate chips. The recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s latest recipe book, Simply Nigella, which I was given for Christmas and she calls it a breakfast banana bread. In this latest book she seems to be attempting to offer healthier dishes instead of her usual style of cooking, which is generally quite rich and indulgent. Unfortunately I think her strengths lie in the sort of cooking for which she became known but I was obviously keen to try one of her sweet recipes: I didn’t quite fancy the chocolate and liquorice cake but the banana bread sounded great…
I sometimes wonder how much real input a celebrity chef has in their own books and this recipe definitely makes me wonder. The picture in the book shows the baked loaf in its tin and it doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the top.
The first time I made this I was afraid half of it was going to end up on the bottom of the oven: luckily it wasn’t a straight-sided tin.
I made it again and this time used a three-quarter quantity of the original recipe: and it’s still a large loaf. Whoever made the loaf for the photo shoot either failed to use any sort of raising agent or decided that they would only put half the mixture in the tin. I even went back and measured my tin and it was definitely the right size.
The recipe below is my version of a three-quarter quantity of the original (and has been tweaked as both versions contain two eggs). The first time I made it I also mis-read the amount of cardamom required and used less than I should have but I think any stronger and it would have been overwhelming. I have also changed the method but if you would like to see the original recipe and method you can find it here. If you are not convinced how much you will like it I would even recommend making a half recipe quantity of the original and maybe it will end up looking like the one in the picture – just bake it for less time. I’d love to hear which version you go with and how you get on!
2 ripe bananas
1 teaspoon of cardamom pods (about 6 pods) (or ground cardamom).
150ml plain yogurt
100ml light olive oil
150g soft brown sugar
35g cocoa nibs
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Set the oven to 180ºC and grease, and line if necessary, a 2lb loaf tin.
Mash the bananas and set aside.
If you are using cardamom pods rather than ground cardamom, remove the cardamom seeds from the pods and crush with a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
Put the eggs, yogurt, olive oil and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix so that they are well combined.
Mix in the bananas and cocoa nibs.
Sieve the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the egg mixture and fold in.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for around one hour but check after 45 minutes and cover with aluminium foil if it is starting to brown too quickly. It is cooked when it is well risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for a while before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
Perfect for breakfast or just as a snack, however large your finished loaf is!