Banana Bread with Toasted Coconut
One of the best banana cakes that I have tasted was when I was holidaying in Antigua many years ago. Every morning, the little hotel where we were staying would serve up an incredible banana bread for breakfast – I was truly in paradise! Since then I have tried to emulate the recipe for this banana bread, which was deliciously dense and not too sweet – hence not only great for breakfast but also perfect for afternoon tea. However, the recipes which I made, although admittedly very tasty and moreish, never quite matched that one I had in ‘paradise’. I always blamed it on the lack of Caribbean sunshine – perhaps my London kitchen just didn’t have the ambience required?…But just recently, I found this recipe for banana bread in Meera Sodha’s cookbook ‘East’, Sohda uses both coconut and ground almonds in her recipe, I think that they are the secret to the elusive density that I had been searching for. Don’t be put off if you’re not keen on coconut, as the flavour of the banana overshadows it. It is great toasted and, for a really indulgent snack, unbelievably good spread with peanut butter…!! If you are gluten free, you will be pleased to know that it can be made perfectly well using gluten free flour (I use Doves).
100g coconut oil
100ml maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g plain flour (gluten free if required)
100g ground almonds
150g desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
450g ripe banana flesh (about 4-5 bananas), cut into chunks
40g untoasted coconut chips
(450g loaf tin, lined)
- In a small pan, heat the coconut oil until just melted then remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup and vanilla, then set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, desiccated coconut, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Put the banana chunks in a food processor and blitz to a smooth puree. Add the flour mixture and the oil and process until just combined, scraping down the sides to ensure all the mixture is incorporated.
- Pour the mixture into the lined bread tin and spread out evenly, then sprinkle over enough coconut flakes to cover the top completely – pressing them lightly into the batter.
- Bake in a preheated oven, 180’c fan, for 1 hour, then turn the cake around and bake for a further 20 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and cool completely in the tin, brushing off any overly scorched coconut flakes.
- Serve in generous slices – it is delicious simply as it is, but do try it spread with peanut butter, or even toasted!