A couple of months ago, when I was on the world's fastest trip to Sydney, I ended up in an Italian deli talking to a bunch of Australian housewives about how lucky they were to have such great access to wonderful (and inexpensive) Italian foodstuffs. They told me I was lucky because I didn't have to pay through the nose for bananas. Then they launched into a lengthy conversation about where to get the best bananas from, how someone knew someone who'd paid $10 for two, and how the Great Australian Banana Shortage of 2011 had affected their diets. Fairtrade or ethical bananas didn't get a look in.
Ernesto's Banana Bread
Luckily, bananas - even ethical ones - remain in good supply here. The only trouble I have is keeping them from ripening too quickly, especially given that we're moving house next week and I don't need a freezerful to cart across town. This banana bread recipe, which I hunted down for work, is from a local cafe with a fantastic pastry chef who also makes beautiful chocolates. I've added more bananas (well, you can never have too many) and nuts. It makes a huge loaf and keeps really well.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla essence
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnut halves, optional
Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line a large loaf tin. Slice two of the bananas (into whatever shape you like) and set aside.
Mash the remaining bananas in a large bowl and add the eggs, oil, milk, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat well. I do this in my freestanding mixer, but you could just as easily do it by hand.
Sift the dry ingredients over the top and fold in gently until combined. Pour half the mixture into the greased loaf tin, then scatter over a handful of chopped banana. Pour the rest of the mixture into the tin, then arrange the remaining sliced banana and walnut halves, if using, on top.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
Have a sweet, sweet weekend everyone. We will be deep in packing/cleaning/tidying hell, eating lots of sustaining banana bread to keep us going...