Judging by social media, banana bread is to 2020 what avocados, matcha and salted caramel were to the 2010s. I don’t know who decided that this would be the bake of quarantine – you almost expect Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith to be convening across a gingham tablecloth somewhere, judging the technicalities of this, let’s face it, not-so-technical cake that the nation seems to have taken on as its very own signature challenge.
Maybe the reason it became such a craze is because it represents the simplicity we craved when our lives were shaken to the core, back in March. It’s not pretty and it lacks all of the bells and whistles of an iced cupcake or a decadent red velvet; but my god, isn’t it comforting? Plainly dressed, subtly flavoured and altogether rather humble, banana bread is the baker’s equivalent of a builder’s tea or a bobbly old jumper. What better symbol for the collective hunkering down of the spring we’ve just endured, the weary sigh felt across not just the country but the rest of the world as we closed the door on all that we’d planned, and to all those that we love.
I began feeling quite resistant to banana bread’s fifteen minutes of fame, partly because I couldn’t get ahold of the ingredients to make it anywhere. People were rounding up flour and sugar with the same vigour that they’d given the toilet roll aisle a couple of weeks beforehand – the bakers were as bad as the stockpilers, in my eyes. But as the weeks passed and everyone else in the world moved onto the next it-bake (I think it’s babka!?) I decided I’d tick off my final quarantine cliché, dig out the loaf tin and use up a couple of sad looking bananas that I’d bought in an attempt to eat more fruit. The recipe I chose is a Mary Berry classic; it’s not as gooey or sugary as some and it’s not marbled with chocolate or beaten with alternative flours, but that’s why I like it. It’s as easy as they come – you just bung all the ingredients into the bowl, mix and pour into a tin.
I’ve noted down this recipe for future attempts and for anybody who may stumble upon this and feel the urge to whip up a little comfort food. Whatever you’ve taken from the last few discombobulating months, I think we can all agree on on this: when things go tits-up, wheel out the banana bread.
Mary Berry’s Banana Bread
- 100g softened butter
- 175g caster sugar
- 225g self-raising flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 2tbsp milk
- 1tsp baking powder
- Preheat the oven to Gas 4 and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, combining the sugar and butter first, followed by the eggs, milk, sifted flour, baking powder and banana.
- Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for one hour. Remove when golden and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Leave to cool for about 15 minutes before removing from the tin, then let it cool completely before slicing.
And there you have it! An easy peasy recipe that will have your whole house smelling divine. If you’re yet to give into the hype, I hope I may have tempted you with my rather rustic version. Let me know if you’ve baked a lockdown loaf, and if so what recipe is your favourite?