In addition to fond memories and a few extra pounds around our middles, my brother and his wife left behind them three very ripe bananas. I don't buy bananas very often because the Critic doesn't like them very much and I only like them when just barely ripe. Buying more than one a time in these circumstances doesn't make much sense. But thanks to my brother, I had the means to make one of my favourite recipes: banana nut bread. Since our friend Jonathan was invited to come watch the England v. Wales football match, I decided to experiment with the recipe, try to make something a little special. With all modesty, I have to say I think I found a winner: Banana Apricot Nut Bread.
In this version, golden sweet bananas give a background setting to the nutty pecans and surprisingly tart dried apricots. Of course, in the baking the apricots swell and become juicy, but what I didn't expect was the sharp burst of flavour they would give to each bite. This combination works extremely well and I can't see myself going back to plain old boring banana bread any more!
This recipe was adapted from the Fanny Farmer Fresh Banana Cake. As the consistency came out fairly dense and moist, I didn't bother frosting it (or calling it a cake).
1/2 cup (115g) sweet butter
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
1 cup mashed banana (3 bananas, but more is better, so don't throw it away if you have slightly more than a cup!)
2 large free-range eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour milk (I used a mixture of creme fraiche and fresh milk)
2 Tbs lemon juice
5 large dried apricots, chopped (actually, you could easily put in more)
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Butter and lightly flour a 9" square cake pan. Cream the butter, slowing add the sugar and beat until light. Add the banana mush, eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add the nuts, apricot, flour, baking soda and salt and mix. Slowly add the sour milk and lemon juice. Beat until well-blended. Spread in the pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
The original recipe calls for splitting the cake and filling it with banana cream frosting. This sounds delicious, but actually it was tasty hot from the oven just on its own. To keep, cover with tin foil and serve cold with either some soft butter (or toasted, mmmm) or go ahead and frost it!
As my 9" baking pan was not available, I used two smaller baking pans: a small one for serving immediately and a larger one for saving (and possibly sharing with my work colleagues tomorrow). As you can see from the photo, the small one didn't last long...