Lilly Higgins: My best recipe for banana bread

My favourite weekend treat is to make it into the most indulgent French toast

Banana bread with black pepper streusel

Banana bread with black pepper streusel

 

Banana bread seems to be a favourite for many people, its natural sweetness is enticing and it doesn’t feel like you’re eating dessert. A big thick slice of beguiling banana bread smothered with butter and honey is somehow justified by the fact that it’s called a “bread” and not a cake. It’s the perfect thing at tea break or for breakfast on the go. I usually make this recipe into muffins, the recipe below makes 24. They are perfect for packed lunches, but omit the streusel if your child’s school has a nut allergy policy. The bananas will have to be very ripe to get best results. Black spots are always a good sign that the bananas are sweet enough, I usually buy some to eat right away and then hide some for smoothies and baking.

I always add salt to my baking if I’m using coconut oil in place of butter. I only ever use salted butter for my baking , controversial I know, but it does have its own special flavour that adds something. Salt is that something so do add a pinch of it when baking with coconut oil, especially if using cocoa or chocolate. I could never imagine baking just one loaf of banana bread so over the years I’ve just come to double this recipe, it freezes perfectly too. Any leftover slices can be toasted and spread with peanut butter. My favourite weekend treat is to make it into the most indulgent French toast, it tastes incredible with a dollop of Greek yogurt, maple syrup and toasted pecan nuts.

The original recipe for this bread called for sunflower oil and almost three times as much sugar. The banana itself is so sweet that I’ve reduced the sugar massively and am now using honey as the additional sweetener. Chunks of dark chocolate and toasted walnuts or pecans can be added to this loaf. Nutmeg and cinnamon are delicious with banana, I’ve used mixed spice here but you can leave it out and just have the banana and vanilla flavour if you prefer. The black pepper in the streusel is a fun addition that works well with the banana. It adds a little more spice and heat to this classic loaf.

Banana bread with black pepper streusel
Makes 2 loaves

For the streusel:
50g plain flour
40g ground almonds
40g honey
25g coconut oil

For the loaf:
180g honey
250g coconut oil or butter
4 x eggs
6 x bananas, very ripe and mashed well
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp salt
350g plain flour
Freshly ground black pepper

Grease and flour two 1lb loaf tins. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 180C. First make the streusel by stirring all of the streusel ingredients together till it forms a smooth dough ball. Wrap the dough tightly in cling film and place in the fridge or freezer to firm up.

Cream the honey and coconut together till smooth and evenly mixed. Add the eggs one by one. Add the crushed banana and vanilla extract. Combine well.

Sieve the baking powder, mixed spice, salt and flour together then add to the banana mixture. Mix till just combined. Be careful not to overmix or the bread will be tough and heavy.

Pour into the prepared tins or muffin cases. Crumble the cold streusel mixture over the top. Lastly sprinkle the streusel with freshly ground black pepper.

Bake for 55-60 minutes for the loaves or 20 minutes for the muffins. If the top of the loaves begins to brown too much cover with a piece of foil. Leave to cool for five minutes in the tin before turning out on a rack.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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