I might have found my new favourite banana bread recipe: banana bread with walnuts, pecans and chocolate chunks. Soft and crumbly (thanks to vegetable oil and yoghurt), sweet and tangy (from overripe bananas), and studded with big chunks of walnuts, pecans, milk and dark chocolate.
We are well into week 5 of the coronavirus lockdown here in Poland and I have made six cakes already, including a lovely Blueberry, Almond & Lemon Loaf and a tray of no-bake chocolate bars. I think I’m reaching the point where I won’t be able to eat cake anymore! Is that even possible?! Meanwhile, my husband asked me to switch to baking savoury things! I might take on his advice and start baking bread… if I ever find yeast in my local shops or should my sourdough starter ever be ready (I’m on day 10 of trial and error and still waiting…). Anyway, all this to say that this delicious Banana Bread with walnuts, pecans and chocolate chunks might be the last sweet bake recipe I bake (and share on my blog) for a while.
I love experimenting with new recipes all the time, which is why I rarely bake the same thing more than twice. There are a few exceptions: brownies, fruit tarts, carrot cake and banana bread. These are usually my go-to cakes. The ones I make over and over again, for us two to eat at home or to serve to our friends at parties.
When it comes to banana bread, I have tried different recipes over the years and yet my favourite banana bread still remains the first one I ever used, which was passed to me by an American friend. It’s a simple recipe, but what makes it special is a light dusting of nutmeg and cinnamon powder on top. My kitchen fills up with the aroma of Christmas spices every time I bake that banana bread!
As of last week, my trusted banana bread recipe has found some competition in the form of Nigella’s Banana Bread. When Nigella shared her recipe on Twitter I was intrigued. Also I must say that, at the time, it felt like the whole foodie community of Instagram / Twitter was baking banana bread and I suddenly craved it too. I decided to give Nigella’s recipe a go, knowing it would be a goodie.
Nigella’s recipe (which I’ve linked to below) is gluten free as it’s made with rice flour and ground almonds. I couldn’t find rice flour in the shops (any type of flour is a hot commodity at the moment) so I used plain flour instead (as advised by Nigella herself who kindly replied to my query on Twitter).
Other small changes I made to Nigella’s recipe are the amount of banana (I used more) and the addition of different toppings: pecans, walnuts, milk and 70% dark chocolate.
I like to keep the chocolate chunky in my cakes: I break the chocolate bars by hand into the small squares and then chop these in half. I also halve walnuts and pecans as I like to have large chunks to bite into. However, this part is totally up to your individual preference: feel free to not use nuts or chocolate, or perhaps use chocolate chips or other types of nuts, even raisins if you’d like.
Adapted from Nigella’s gluten-free banana bread recipe.
- 170g plain flour
- 100g ground almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 450g ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g Greek yoghurt
- 2 large free-range eggs
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 125g soft light brown sugar or demerara
- 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 50g pecans, roughly chopped
- 100g 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 50g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1/2 small banana, cut lenghtwise, for the topping
Preheat the oven to 160°C Fan. Grease a 2lb/900g loaf tin (21 x 11 cm) and line with baking paper.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food mixer with paddle attachment, combine the mashed bananas, vanilla and Greek yoghurt. Add the eggs, one by one, continuing to mix. Add the sugar and the oil. Mix well until fully combined.
Add the dry ingredients, scraping the sides of the bowl down to make sure all is combined.
Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold in the nuts and chocolate.
Pour the mixture into the tin. Gently lay a long banana slice over the cake mixture, careful not to push it too deep into it. The banana bread will rise in the oven all around the banana slice creating a nice decoration.
Bake the bread in the oven for 50-60 minutes until risen and cooked. Test with a toothpick inserted in the middle (bearing in mind that you might hit the chocolate chunks), when it comes out clean the cake is read. Remove from the oven, but leave in the tin until it is completely cool.
Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days at room temperature.