Today, I am taking a big step. I am sharing a closely guarded secret with you all. The recipes for my banana bread and my cranberry, pecans and white chocolate flapjacks. This is not something I share easily but I feel we are at that stage in our relationship now where I can trust you all with it.
These are my most successful recipes in my repertoire and get more requests than the others. So here goes.
150g butter and 80ml of butter milk OR 150ml double cream
225g sugar (soft brown works best)
4 bananas (it’s not an exact science though, it can be as few as 2 or as many as 6)
285g plain flour (00 flour will make your bread really soft)
1.5 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
Drinking chocolate powder
Ok, so I’m setting it down on paper here but it’s not something you should feel restricted by. It’s all quite flexible.
First, turn the oven to 150 degrees.
If you’re using butter, put it in a mixing bowl with sugar and cream it together. If the butter is at room temperature, it will be far easier.
If you are using double cream instead, put it in a mixing bowl and whisk until it is starting to form lumps. This is the point at which it is starting to turn into butter. By staying at this pre-butter stage, your banana bread will take on a totally different texture, much lighter and softer. Add the sugar to this and mix. We’re now at the same stage, whether we’ve used butter or cream.
Next, add the 2 eggs and mix until fully incorporated.
Next put your bananas on top of everything. Take a potato masher and mash the bananas into the mixture. If you prefer to mash the bananas in a separate bowl and add them to your main bowl, you can. But there are more dishes to wash if you do it that way.
If you are using butter instead of double cream, you will need to add your buttermilk here. Add the vanilla extract at this stage as well. I just splash it in. It’s probably 1 tbsp. (Making your own vanilla extract will give it a nicer taste. Just stick some vanilla pods in a bottle of vodka and leave it for 3 months. Simple.)
Next add the flour. This is kind of flexible too. I’ve used every random combination of bits and bobs of flour when I’ve not had the right one in the cupboard and it always works. Last time I used half 00 flour and half wholemeal and I got really good feedback. The only thing I would say is don’t use self raising, as we’re going to add bicarb soon.
If you want to sift your flour through a sieve, you can. I’ve done it sifted and unsifted and I don’t think it makes a difference. Plus, there are more things to wash if you sift it.
Add your salt and bicarb. I just usually grab a pinch of flaky salt and grind between my fingers as I sprinkle it in. When adding the chocolate powder, it’s what you prefer really. It’s not a chocolate flavoured cake. It’s just to add a little something in the background. You want a tablespoon full at the most, I think.
Once it’s all definitely mixed in, grease a loaf tin and line it with greaseproof paper. The paper’s not urgent but if the banana bread decides it wants to stick to the bottom, it will break when you shake it out.
Put the mixture in the tin and put it in the middle of the oven for an hour and a half ish.
Then lick the bowl clean.
Test by putting a knife/skewer into the middle and if it comes out clean, it’s done. Don’t stick too closely to the time. If you see after an hour, it looks done, do the knife/skewer test. Or you might have to leave it longer. If you make it a few times, you’ll learn how it’s supposed to look and go by that.
Leave to cool completely before turning out.
Da dahhh! A banana bread!
Cranberry, pecan and white chocolate flapjacks
2 tbsp golden syrup
Melt the butter in a saucepan with the sugar and golden syrup. Depending on how you like your flapjacks to be, add more or less than the amount I’ve stated for the golden syrup. If you like it stickier, use more golden syrup. If you like it crumbly, add a bit less. I tend to add more as it sticks everything together better and cuts into neater pieces.
When melted, take off the heat and add the oats and a few squares of white chocolate. Mix together. Then add the cranberries and pecans. Again, it’s about personal preference. Add loads or a few, it’s up to you.
Mix well and put the whole mixture into a greased baking tray.
Bake on about 160 degrees for 30-40 minutes, depending on how well done you like your flapjacks.
When you take it out, put it somewhere to cool and grate the rest of your white chocolate over the flapjack. It will melt very quickly. Take a spoon or a palette knife and spread it around evenly. Wait until completely cool before cutting into bars.
This recipe works with pretty much any flavour combination. You could add different nuts, different fruit, different chocolate. Lightly roasting loads of different nuts and adding them for a plain nutty flapjack is also amazing.
Ok, people. Go into your kitchens and bring forth cakes and flapjacks fit for royalty! (Obviously crediting me while you’re at it.)
And remember, always lick the bowl afterward. And always make sure there is little washing up afterward. You don’t have time for washing dishes, you need to be eating your creations.