I’ve been challenging myself lately, first to blog more regularly, and do the things I have been wanting to do ever since I started the blog, and second to learn how to swim. My best friends, Jon, and my family have been harping on the fact that I always say I want to learn how to swim – this has been top of my New Year resolution list since…forever? At least since secondary school, that’s for sure. I have this aversion to water thanks to near-drowning incidents since I was younger, so I’ve been putting off learning to swim for the longest time. Jon will probably say that I’m saying only, but well, now that it’s on the blog, I’ll have one extra reason not to go back on my word, together with the fact that I’m going to pay an instructor to teach me and I would definitely not want to miss out on lessons because it would mean wasted money!
So, I will definitely be picking up swimming in the month of August (or September at the latest), and hopefully, I’ll be able to swim one lap across the pool by the end of the year. Fingers crossed. If there’s any of you who has a recommended swimming instructor (female only please), please do let me know. I really need someone who is patient and understanding =X
As for the first challenge, ever since I started work, I have been using it as an excuse not to blog. I used to blog probably once a week previously, but now it’s as rare as once a month. It’s horrible because I spend quite a bit of time in the office (ie during lunch break or in the morning) surfing the net and reading other people’s blogs, feeling jealous about the lives people lead and the food people create and the beautiful photographs people take. It sucks because well, instead of sitting there moping, I should be using this time more productively to craft my blog posts, and improve my photography and baking! So, I have decided to do so. For a start, I will be trying to clear all the backlog from god-knows-when, and making blog posts more regularly, at least once a week. So for a start, I’m blogging about my mom’s banana loaf (again I know), and I will be following on with 2 travel-themed posts, about some memorable foods I ate in Melbourne and Sydney. If it isn’t obvious, I love travelling, and I love planning itineraries, so I will be trying my best to share itineraries and tips I’ve picked up from travelling to certain places. Soon.
Back to the banana loaf. This is definitely something I will be baking to bring on the airplane as a snack when I take Scoot to Seoul this coming week. I find the food onboard too salty and unhealthy for my liking, and although outside food is not allowed, Scoot doesn’t sell gluten-free foods, so I think I’m entitled to bring foods suitable for my gut onboard :]
These pictures were taken almost a year ago, but ever since then I’ve been baking these countless of times, and yes, these will be the loaves I will be selling for a charity event which I will reveal after I’m back from my Seoul trip.
As with many other people, I feel very uncomfortable about adding the adjective “best” in front of any recipe, mainly because best is always subjective. I always hate it when I try a recipe which says “best xx” and after I taste the end-result, I find that it is definitely not the best, because “I’ve had better”. (Ps: I have been told that this attitude is definitely that of a maximizer, and not a satisficer, because I’m always hunting for “the best” and am always unhappy with settling for something which “might be good”, but “just not good enough imo”. If you don’t know what the terms maximizers and satisficers mean, do check out the site I linked to above, no, it’s not about bras or sex, it’s about finding happiness and how people make choices. Really interesting theory that a partner shared with me earlier this month).
So back to the loaf, some might prefer a dense pound-cake like banana loaf, whereas another would prefer a moist spongy loaf, whereas another would prefer a quick-bread consistency, crumbly loaf. What then is best? For me, a loaf need not be simple to make, ie, I don’t necessarily have to use the mix dry into wet method if that is not going to give me the best crumb. I personally prefer a cake which is sufficiently moist, with a tight crumb, almost like how cupcakes taste like. The best recipe should also incorporate the most amount of bananas (not banana essence thankyouverymuch), and healthy ingredients, but should be versatile enough for me to play around with ingredients.
Well, this recipe (my mom’s recipe) qualifies on all fronts. It is perhaps the most versatile recipe I have in my repertoire. I have been using this recipe for anything banana related ever since the inception of this blog. You have seen variations of the original recipe in several forms – first in my multigrain banana loaf where slightly more sugar and less flour was used, and subsequently for my chocolate banana muffins. The recipe never differs much – the ratio of weight of butter to sugar to egg to flour is approximately 1:1:1:2.In fact, you can even substitute the bananas for pumpkins or sweet potatoes or carrots or even apples(!), and as soon as I can get my ass to bake pretty little things to take photos of, I will blog about them.
PS: I’m crazy about crispy brown edges, which is why I baked the loaf in a dark loaf pan without any paper to have maximum brown sides – you can opt to bake the loaf in a nice aluminium tin lined with greased paper if you want maximum moistness. And sorry for the unintentional blurry “emo” picture above, the beautiful evening light must have disappeared while I was shooting.
Please find below the original, unadulterated recipe. Variations are suggested in the notes section if you’re interested, or you can check out my gluten-free and chocolate versions above.
- 60g butter
- 60g castor sugar
- 1 egg (about 65g with shell)
- 30g milk
- 120g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 130g bananas, mashed (1 large banana or 2 small bananas)
- In a mixing bowl, sift the flours, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter for about 1 minute. Add in the sea salt and sugars and continue creaming for about 3 minutes until the butter becomes light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla extract. Continue mixing until the egg is well incorporated into the batter.
- Add in a third of the dry ingredients into the batter. Mix for about 10 seconds, or until most of the dry ingredients are incorporated. It is okay if some flour streaks remain. Add in all the mashed bananas and mix well.
- Add in another third of the dry ingredients and mix for a further 10 seconds. Add in all of the milk and make sure that the milk is fully incorporated before adding the final third of the dry ingredients. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the batter, until no flour streaks remain. If you are adding chocolates or nuts into the batter, fold them in gently.
- Spoon the batter into a greased loaf pan. You can also add some extra chocolate chunks, rolled oats and nuts to the top of the loaf.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 170 degree celsius for about 30-40 minutes minutes. If you are using a fan-forced oven, you should check on your muffins at the 25 minute mark to see if they are browned. Use a cake skewer and if it comes out clean, remove the loaf from the oven and let them cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Texture: I can just go on and on about this loaf / muffins. It's fantastic and be prepared to ditch all banana cake recipes next time, 'nuff said.
Storage: Because there are bananas in the loaf, please store the loaf in the fridge in an airtight container. They will keep really long if you put them in the freezer.
Would I make this again?: Definitely! Imagine how many times I bake this if this has made an appearance not once, not twice but three times on my blog!