I think if my baking journey started with lemon drizzle cake, it was followed up promptly with attempts at banana bread.
Why it’s called banana bread rather than banana cake seems to bring up a bit of debate and some confusion. I wonder if calling it banana bread means that people think it’s healthier than your average cake and therefore leading to its popularity, or maybe it’s because children are often brought up eating banana sandwiches so have fond memories of banana in bread.
Either way, it’s one of those lovely treats that can fulfil your hunger cravings whether it be for breakfast smeared with peanut butter, afternoon tea with a cup of coffee or for dessert with a dollop of yoghurt and a drizzle of honey. It really is a great all-rounder!
Being a bit of an exercise junkie, there is always a surplus of bananas in the flat that are gravitating towards to the bin and when it comes to banana bread, the riper the banana the better, so it’s a great way to use up those old bananas.
So when I had a few lying about at the end of the week, it seemed like an obvious solution with the benefit that it’s always nice to have a cake on standby at the weekends.
Having recently come back from a holiday in Florida, I still had a taste for maple syrup and peanuts.
Maple Syrup is used to provide sweetness in dishes instead of honey in the States and it is poured onto breakfast pancakes like there’s about to be a shortage. Whilst I would normally add honey into banana bread, I thought some Maple Syrup would work as a lovely substitute especially as I was going to forgo adding any sugar.
Americans’ other love is peanut butter and I became quite the fan of some chocolate peanut butter ice cream from the Larry’s Ice cream shop across the road from our apartment. Whilst there was 80 flavours (!) to choose from, I couldn’t help but go for that scoop of peanut butter flavour.
I think it’s a well know fact that peanut butter spread on banana loaf is just a mouth-watering combination and whilst banana bread is normally made with walnuts, I wanted to try out substituting them with some unsalted peanuts to try and get that peanut flavour into the bread rather than adding it on top.
Seeing as I had removed the sugar, I decided to substitute the butter for rapeseed oil and some low fat yoghurt, and changed the usual plain flour for wholemeal flour in an attempt to keep the banana bread to the ‘slightly’ healthier side of the scale.
The result is a flavoursome, moist banana bread with a lovely crunch coming from the peanuts.
The nutty flavour does come through but doesn’t over power the sweet bananas and the Maple Syrup provides the caramelised sweetness you normally get from the light brown sugar.
The colour has the wholemeal speckle that ensures you feel a little less guilty as you devour a slice with your morning coffee and you practically convince yourself it’s only a slice of wholemeal bread.
The darker tones and crunch on the outside of the cake give some additional texture along with the golden peanuts that have been lightly roasted sitting invitingly on top.
I don’t think you get quite the same lightness as when you add butter, but I’d take an extra slice of banana bread with the rapeseed oil over adding the butter.
For a variation on a classic banana bread, I’d say this maple, banana bread with crunchy crushed peanuts is a treat without feeling like you have to go out and do a marathon after a few slices, maybe just a 10k. That makes it a winner in my book.
Maple banana bread with crunchy crushed peanuts
(makes 1 loaf)
300g very ripe bananas (3 medium sized bananas)
1 tbsp low fat yoghurt
40ml rapeseed oil (or olive oil)
160ml maple syrup
2 medium eggs
225g wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
75g crushed/roughly broken unsalted peanuts
Preheat the oven to 170°.
Oil a loaf tin or line with baking parchment.
Whisk together the eggs, maple syrup and rapeseed oil until well combined.
Mash the banana (not to a paste as a few lumps are fine) and add the yoghurt and mix well. Add the mashed banana to the whisked eggs and thoroughly whisk to ensure it’s well incorporated.
Add the wholemeal flour and baking powder to the wet mixture and fold through. Add 60g of peanuts to the mixture and gently fold through.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, sprinkle the remaining peanuts on to the top and bake for 50 minutes to an hour. The loaf is done when the top is golden, the peanuts are lightly toasted and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the loaf tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve it in thick slices (at any time of day!) on its own or add some yoghurt to create a lovely dessert. Or if you’re me and still have those cravings from holiday, add an additional layer of peanut butter. Naughty but nice.