Prep: 20 min // Bake 40 min
Banana bread is an all-time-favourite crowd-pleaser. It's easy to make, it's healthy and is super tasty making it perfectly suitable for kids and vegetarians.
During the pandemic lockdown, banana bread has seen a rise in home baking preferences. Not sure why, but that cake was coming first in trending hashtags and all this geeky stuff. I've seen a lot of recipes around but I think mine is one of the healthiest out there. Not only there's absolutely not a single grain of sugar (sweetness comes from ripe bananas and dates) but the addition of linseed, oats and nuts makes it a 'superfood dessert', so to speak.
What's more, the mixture is easy and can be all done in a single bowl, hence these little hands can be of great help and keep them distracted from breaking things around the house.
Let younger toddlers play around with mixing the dough and scooping it into the tin. Give them several different utensils so they can practice their grip and sense. Older kids can master the art of cracking eggs (get some spare just in case) or operating the food processor.
4-5 very ripe bananas
200gr self-raising flour
75gr unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp cinnamon
50gr pitted dates
A handful of mixed dried fruit (or just raisins), roughly chopped
A handful of nuts (pecan or walnuts), roughly chopped
A heaped handful of oats
Optionally 2-3 tbsp crushed flaxseeds or linseeds
Now, pastry and baking is a whole different science and mistakes are rarely forgiven so be careful with substitutes. My suggestion is to stick with the ingredients and quantities that provide texture and shape (e.g. flour, eggs, butter) and feel free to play around with all the flavourings to your liking. And remember, good quality products (like eggs and butter) will give you the best taste results.
Vanilla bean paste with vanilla powder. Vanilla bean paste can be hard to find, expensive or a hassle to make your own. Vanilla powder (I prefer the natural, black one) will do the trick.
Butter with Dairy-free butter (e.g. Flora) or coconut oil. Some are lactose intolerant, vegans or simply there's nothing else in the fridge and too lazy to go shopping. These kinds of butter can be altered however the replacement can affect not only the taste but structure as well. If you go for dairy-free butter and notice the mixture is too soft or watery add some more pinches of flour to reduce the moisture. Coconut oil, on the other hand, will slightly affect the flavour but as this bread has a tropical note, it can be a good replacement of butter. Use in 1:1 ratio.
Make your own self-raising flour with plain: During lockdown, panic buyers ransacked supermarkets and I've experienced a lack of basic things as self-raising flour. To make self-raising flour, mix 100g plain flour with 2 tsp baking powder. Result may vary depending on the quality of baking powder (e.g. if it's expired).
Soak the dates in hot water (to soften) until you prepare all the rest.
Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)
Dry ingredients: In a bowl, toss the flour with the flaxseeds (if using), the cinnamon and a pinch of salt and rub this mixture with the butter using your fingertips, until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Wet ingredients: In a large food processor (like this), peel and toss all the bananas but one (save it for decoration) along with the softened dates, the cracked egg and vanilla paste and blitz a few times until they blend and the banana is broken down. We want it a bit lumpy.
Now pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry and mix well. Assign this task to these little hands if required.
Last, mix the dried fruits, nuts and oats (save some oats for decoration) and stir again.
Pour the mixture into the baking tin. Now in the decoration part, you can play around with shapes and styles (e.g. I like to cut the banana lengthwise or in discs, and sprinkling some poppy seeds and dried fruit/nuts/oats before throwing it into the oven).
Bake for 35-40 mins (depending on your oven strength) or until the surface is golden brown.
Let it cool down in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Can be served standalone or as breakfast with a dollop of peanut butter spread on top.