When I offer to make a basic cake these days, whether for a school fair, cakes sales or for colleagues, the most likely request is for Banana Bread. It wasn’t always so…….. When I cooked with wheat flour, it was good, but never that good. But this recipe, well………………..
It seems gluten-free Banana Bread has a major fan club and a growing number of gluten-eating ‘converts’, at least down my way. I get asked ‘is that cake really ‘unleaded’?’ I ask the doubter why they are so surprised. This Banana Bread is so good as to have even the most cynical gluten-eater fooled and persuaded.
I don’t know why I am surprised. I have experience on both sides of the fence, having been a gluten eater myself for over 40 years before Coeliac Disease became a defining factor in my world of food. So much of what I now bake at home (by necessity gluten free), tastes so much better than when I made it with wheat……………… providing I can find or develop a great recipe. But that’s the secret I guess ……….. Don’t accept the temptation to allow yourself to be fooled into eating dry and tasteless alternatives as though that is all you should expect. Hold out for moistness, flavour and decadence!
This Banana Bread has it all and is versatile enough to adapt into delicious cakes and muffins too. It comes well tested and with a ‘multi-starred’ rating from both gluten and non-gluten eaters alike. I have been told (by 2 gluten-eating friends) that it is the best banana bread they have ever tasted. And I get the impression that both of them have a lot of banana bread experience.
I confess this is not my own recipe, but has been borrowed from the very talented Adriana Rabinovich (The Gluten-Free Cookbook for Kids (2009)). I have adapted it minimally (only changing the ratio of almonds to flour slightly) because it is just sooooo good as it is.
Then I got to thinking……….. ‘I bet this tastes really good with chocolate’. It does!!!!! Add a handful of chocolate chips for extra decadence…………..
…………or layer and smother with either delicious chocolate butter icing, made with dark chocolate, melted chocolate, or chocolate ganache.
Ingredients (makes 1 large loaf or 12 large muffins. Use 1 ½ times the mix for an 8 inch sandwich cake)
210g plain gluten free flour mix (either from this post, or a commercial blend suitable for baking)
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 ½ teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
100g unsalted butter – room temperature
150g caster sugar (I use golden caster sugar)
125g light soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 medium-sized bananas
175 ml buttermilk
100g walnuts, pecan nuts or hazelnuts – oven-toasted & chopped
100g dark chocolate chunks
- Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4. Base-line a large loaf tin (or cake tins if using) with baking paper or prepare a muffin tin with muffin cases.
- In a medium-sized bowl, weigh, sift and mix the flour, almonds, xanthan gum, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl, using an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add and beat in the vanilla extract.
- Mash the bananas with a fork in a separate bowl and fold gently into the wet mixture.
- Add the nuts and/or chocolate chunks (if using) and fold in gently.
- Using a large spoon or spatula, gently fold in the butter milk alternately with the flour-almond mixture about a third at a time, ensuring all the ingredients are JUST combined. Do not over-mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin, cake tins or spoon evenly into muffin cases.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes (large muffins); 30 minutes (cake); 45 minutes (large loaf), until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the top is firm to the touch but springs back.
- Leave to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Decorate as you choose or just enjoy as it is.
Chocolate Butter Icing
120g unsalted butter – room temperature
130g dark chocolate
200g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (approx.) almond (or cows) milk
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl in the microwave (do this very gradually in 30 second bursts on medium, stirring between each) or over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until fully melted and quite smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth and fluffy, then gradually add the vanilla, icing sugar and chocolate a little at a time until smooth and creamy.
- Add the milk and beat thoroughly (omit this if your icing is at the desired consistency already).
- If the mixture is too stiff, add a little extra milk. If too soft, keep beating to thicken or add a little extra icing sugar.