I’ve always loved Banana Bread, and there’s something very comforting about it – quite apart from being the perfect use for bananas that may have been hanging around just that bit too long. At this time when buying food is so tricky, I feel guiltier than ever if I have to throw any food away, so when I noticed that there were three squishy bananas in the fruit bowl with black patches growing on them daily, I decided to turn them into a family favourite – with a bit of a difference this time.
There are many variations on this popular treat, and I’ve tasted some delicious ones over the years: when I was working on stage a while ago in An American in Paris we would gather as a cast between the matinee and evening performances to share tea together, with each actor contributing something. Banana bread was a regular feature, with some delicious variations brought along during the six months or so I was there, and I still enjoy trying out different recipes myself at home. It’s not really a bread of course – far nearer to a cake – although the basic version can be eaten spread with butter.
But this week I experimented with adding cream cheese to the mix, and after a couple of tries I’m really happy with the way it’s worked out. Just to make it extra delicious, I’ve added a topping of crunchy peanut butter: but if you feel that’s a bit over the top (or you have nut allergy in the family) then the bread is just as good without it. Or you could drizzle a little lemony icing over the top instead…
Love Jane x
Banana and cream cheese bread with crunchy peanut butter topping
- 250g self raising flour
- 150g castor sugar
- Pinch salt
- 3 medium or 4 small very ripe bananas
- 2 large eggs
- 60ml buttermilk (or 60ml milk plus 1/2tsp white wine vinegar)
- 175g butter
- 2 tsps (10ml) vanilla extract
For the cream cheese filling:
- 125g full fat cream cheese
- 1 large egg
- 50g castor sugar
- 30g flour (plain or self raising is fine)
For the topping:
- 4-6 tbsps (60-90ml) crunchy peanut butter
- A little milk
Makes 8-10 slices
Pre-heat the oven to 175C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment or a cake liner.
If you don’t have buttermilk, just add the vinegar to the milk in a small cup and leave it for a few minutes – it will curdle and be just as good.
Melt the butter, either in the microwave or in a pan on low heat. Allow to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt.
In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat together the bananas, eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract. (If you are mixing by hand, first mash the bananas well with a fork or masher).
Pour the wet ingredients into the flour and mix briefly with a wooden spoon until just combined – don’t over mix.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, egg, sugar and flour.
In a cup, mixing the peanut butter and a little milk with a spoon until softened.
Add about ¼ of the banana bread batter to the prepared loaf tin, then add alternate spoonfuls of the cream cheese filling and remaining banana batter to the tin.
Using a knife, swirl the mixtures together. Gently add dollops of the peanut butter to the top.
Bake the bread for 60 to 70 minutes until the top is firm and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. (I quite like the dark brown edges of the finished loaf, but it you prefer to keep it lighter, then just cover the bread with foil halfway through the cooking.)
Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before carefully tipping it out onto a rack, still in its paper, and allowing it to cool completely (or eat it while still slightly warm).