Banana, white chocolate and cinnamon loaf


At the moment my life is veering between a version of The Summer Book, where a small child and her grandmother spend long days on an island the size of a couple of fields, exploring a tiny world in an unhurried way and cherishing their time together and Room, where a small child and his mother are trapped in a single room, making entertainment out of nothing and the TV and jumping up and down every day on a small table, shouting at a sky light, desperate to escape their prison.

I can’t help but think of the children whose hopes of adoption have hit a wall, the children for whom home is not a safe and cosy place, the children whose parents don’t have fast wifi and a printer and money for endless printouts and children whose parents are frightened of going to work but have to.

We are lucky.

I was begged to remake this so I reckon it’s worthy of a blog post.

Lasts about half an hour, warm from the oven

140g soft butter

140g golden caster sugar

2 very ripe bananas (starting to blacken)

2 eggs

140g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

100g white chocolate chunks

Pre-heat the oven to 180 and line a 2lb loaf tin.

Beat the sugar and butter together for a good five minutes, till pale and fluffy. Add the bananas and beat till smooth. Mix together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a uniform, pale brown mess then, with about a spoonful of the flour per egg to stop it curdling, beat in the eggs. Finally, stir the rest of the flour mixture into the wet batter until only just combined. Stir through the white chocolate and pour the mixture into your tin. Bake for around 40 minutes, till golden and the top is firm (so a finger doesn’t leave an indentation).

Good when it’s almost too warm to hold in a mud-streaked small hand, or with vanilla icecream. Or stealthily taken to the study to eat at your computer.


Instant banana icecream

Bert has recently decided he doesn’t like Ray. His reason? ‘He makes me sick.’ Poor old Ray.

Last week we were snuggled up reading a bedtime story and turned around to see Ray gathering a blanket into a frenzied ball between his legs and making violent love to it. There was a short pause then Bert asked, ‘what’s Ray doing?’ I weakly described it as a special cuddle but am now terrified that nursery will complain about Bert’s new ‘special cuddles’.

I love Ray but sometimes he makes me sick too.

(I should perhaps clarify that Ray’s the dog not a particularly disturbing member of the family.)

Serves 1

1 banana

Slice any spare, nearly too-ripe bananas into discs and freeze (in a single layer – if they stick together when they freeze it doesn’t work so well).

Decant frozen banana to a blender and blend. At first it looks kind of grainy then it becomes the texture of soft ice cream. Scrape out and serve. An easy, on demand ice cream and your child avoids bring presented with yet another banana loaf. (Though I do love banana loaf.)

This is from the brilliant National Trust Family Cookbook – I’ve made three things from it so far and they were all keepers.

Banana and chocolate button loaf

Do I really need another recipe for a banana loaf? Yes, I do.

Bert’s been saving reward stickers for a month now and today was the day we went shopping for his chosen toy (‘Zuma, Skye, Rocky [all Paw Patrol dog characters that drive a vehicle], a dinosaur, a Gruffalo, another Gruffalo’ he said, ambitiously.) He got the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s child and we walked back to the car, Bert in full Gruffalo outfit, holding a Gruffalo in each hand and explaining to me he’s going to live in the ‘deep, dark woods’ with the Gruffalos plus the real Gruffalo, cuddling and kissing them and telling stories. Bliss indeed. (Yes, he’s sleeping in the Gruffalo body.)

He tells me Gruffalos don’t eat cake so I’ll have this one to myself.

Makes a 2lb loaf 

125g butter

150g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg

60ml whole milk 

190g self-raising flour

100g chocolate buttons

Pre heat the oven to gas mark 3/ 170 degreee. Line a 2lb loaf tin (I partly make so many loaves because I have a pack of the ready made paper liners.)

Melt the butter, sugar and vanilla together then mix into the bananas and egg. Add the milk then stir through the flour and then the chocolate buttons. Tip into the tin and bake for about 45-50 minutes. 

If Bert finds six empty packets of chocolate buttons in the bin tomorrow I’ll be mince meat.

Mother’s Day marmalade cake (or a banana and oat loaf for toddlers)

(I say the banana loaf versions for toddlers – Bert’s dad’s eaten about 1/2 a loaf in the last ten minutes.)

The marmalade version’s a mother’s day present for my mum. I overheard Bert telling his dad, ‘I love Gran!’ this morning – if only I’d recorded it that it could be a mother’s day present too.

Anyway, here’s an easy to make and easy to eat cake for the person in your life who taught you how to talk, spoon food into your mouth and wee in the right places.

Makes a small loaf

150g soft butter

100g golden castor sugar

50g soft dark brown sugar

1teaspoon baking powder

150g self-raising flour

3  eggs

I heaped tablespoon marmalade (to convert to a banana loaf, use 2 large or 3 small bananas instead)

Zest of one orange (to convert to a banana loaf, use 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence instead)

115g porridge oats

150ml double cream or full fat yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 180°C or gas mark 4. Line a 2lb loaf tin (one of the smaller ones).

If you have a mixer, bung everything in and cream together till fluffy (about 5 minutes). You don’t even have to mash the bananas for the banana version first. If you don’t, then cream the butter and sugar together before adding the wet ingredients (bananas mashed in this case) and stiring the dry ingredients through.

Bake for around a hour, till the top’s cracked and firm.


Banana, chocolate and coconut loaf

For the last few weeks I’ve finally got Bert to sleep at nine at the earliest, despite one night of success when he was silent from eight onwards (mutely doing who knows what) on the promise of a sticker. Last night all the stickers in the world weren’t going to convince him when he knew that ‘I not sleepy’. He got up and watched ‘World’s Most Extraordinary Houses’ – ‘Wow, look that house! It’s like your house!’ – and was finally convinced to remain behind a closed door at about ten. Still, it’s nice to know he appreciates Modernist architecture.

I walked into his room this morning to find his trike (or his motorbike, as he calls it) on his head. I guess he went straight to sleep then.

Anyway, as a result, it’s goodbye, lunchtime naps. How I’ve loved you! How I’ve cherished you! How I’ll miss you!

All the online parenting guides calmly suggest you switch naptime for quiet time, like sitting at a table reading or colouring in for an hour and a half. This seems about as likely as Bert turning down a packet of chocolate buttons. On the other hand, if I series linked Grand Designs, maybe…

Makes a large loaf

175g golden caster sugar

175g wholemeal self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

4 tablespoons dessicated coconut

2 ripe bananas, mashed

3 eggs, separated, whites beaten to stiff peaks

50ml whole milk

100ml sunflower oil

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3 (140-160 degrees) and line a large loaf tin.

Combine all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the mashed banana, egg yolk, milk and oil, then stir into the dry ingredients. Fold through a quarter of the beaten egg white then quickly fold through all of the rest and tip the mixture into the tin. Bake for about 1 hour and ten minutes.

Sticky toffee banana muffins with cheesecake frosting

I see Bert’s inherited my thighs.

These are so delicious, I might have two.

As with sticky toffee pudding, the dates and dark sugar combine to create a dark toffee gooeyness. The icing is only just sweet, so it’s not sickly at all – New York cheesecake in icing form.

Makes 12 muffins

3 ripe bananas, mashed

175 muscavado (dark brown) sugar

175ml sunflower oil

100g chopped dates

175g brown self-raising flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

3 eggs, lightly beaten

For the frosting (to top half the cakes – double the quantities to top them all):

150g soft cheese

100g sieved golden icing sugar

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180 degrees. Gently stir all of the cake ingredients together until only just combined (this and the sunflower oil make them really light) then spoon the mixture into 12 muffin cases. Bake them for about 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in the tin then lift them onto a cooling rack to completely cool. I froze half the cakes at this point.

Beat the sugar and cheese together till combined then top the cooled cakes with it.

You can switch the banana for grated carrot and the chopped dates for raisins to make little carrot cakes.

Wholemeal raspberry and banana pancakes


Serves 3-4

2 tablespoons melted butter

225g self raising wholemeal flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs

300ml whole milk

1 crushed banana

Handful of fresh or frozen raspberries

Mash the banana together with the raspberries and melt the butter. Stir the rest of the ingredients into the fruit and use the traces of melted butter in the pan to grease a hot frying pan. Fry dessert spoons in batches, turning over when they start to bubble. Cook till golden on both sides and firm.

Do not attempt this with plain wholemeal flour – you will get flat, dry patties.

Bert’s dad’s on a health kick and this is my attempt to make our normal weekend banana pancakes daddy-friendly. Apparently the maple syrup was missed. (I wouldn’t know – mine were drowned in it.)