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This is heavily adapted from Fay Maschler - hers are the butter/sugar/flour proportions and the cooking temperatures, but I have kept on adding things. The apple makes very nice moist, sweet lumps in the bread, the spices and particularly the pepper perk it up no end (trust me on this one!), the sultanas are juicy and chewy... From the basic recipe, this has evolved a little and very rarely lasts long enough to cool down. Store in an tight tin if it does.
6 oz [170 grams] sugar (golden brown is nice) 4 oz [110 grams] butter 2 eggs 2 Tbsp. milk 8 oz [220 grams] ripe banana 8 oz [220 grams] self-raising flour 2 tsp. baking powder (or 3 if you want to use plain flour) 1 tsp. salt pepper, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and so on, as you like A few handfuls of: sultanas, raisins, peeled, chopped apple or pear, dried apricots soaked for ten minutes, nuts or whatever you fancy here.
pans - I use a loaf tin
1. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.
2. Beat in eggs and milk.
3. Sift/mix in a separate bowl the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger and any other spice you feel is appropriate. Just a little fresh-ground pepper adds a very interesting flavour, not at all sharp or bitter, but it brings out the bananas very well. Trust me - just try it!
4. If you're using a mixer, add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and whizz up, then add the raisins, bananas and other goodies and mix very briefly --- the bananas shouldn't be totally pureed, you want some chunks to keep things moist, but nothing larger than 1/2 inch long. No, I'm not suggesting you measure it, but that's a useful guide if you're not sure what we're doing ;--)
5. If you're doing this by hand, mash the bananas and add them with the raisins and goodies first, then fold in the dry ingredients.
6. Bake in 180 C [350 F] (160 C fan [320 F]), gas 4 oven for 30-40 minutes. Test with a skewer - the top should be golden brown and risen and the skewer should be clean after you poke it into the bread. If it comes out acky, bake a little longer. Fresh from the oven, you don't really need anything with this (it is a very moist and crumbly bread), but once it cools down, butter is nice. If it lasts more than a day or so, it dries out a bit and toasts well. A little apricot or raspberry jam is nice with it, but remember, this is a rich tea bread.
VR: Mary Merrytail RL: Mary Branscombe e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org