This recipe was truly born from necessity. Inspired by all the banana bread baking I’ve been witnessing, I’ve been stocking up on bananas, with the full knowledge that they won’t be eaten as is. This is nothing new. I rarely cook the same banana bread recipe twice, but believed I had found the perfect recipe in Claire Ptak’s Buttermilk Banana Bread.
My dilemma was a lack of plain flour and an abundance of lacto-fermented blueberries, from an optimistic ferment-happy afternoon a few weeks ago. With my new Noma book under my arm, I had imagined myself the new Rene Redzepi. In reality, I had a container full of slightly salty, sour blueberries in my fridge – getting more sour by the day. I don’t have the mindset to snack on them like Rene suggests. The second best option must be chucking them in a cake with the brown bananas in the corner of the kitchen.
I knew I needed a robust cake to support the weight and moisture of the blueberries, so Claire Ptak’s recipe just wouldn’t do. It’s more cake than bread. Nigellas has a recipe for a sturdy, flour-heavy recipe in Simply Nigella that should work. I didn’t have the 325g of plain flour the recipe calls for., but I did have a big bag of white rye flour.
Fighting sour with sour
I did worry that the rye might be a bit too tangy with the fermented bloobs, but my worries were unfounded. The cake was delicious. Somehow the slightly tangy rye flour has tempered the very tangy blueberries. A good hint of cardamon completed the scandin-spired, out-of-necessity bake. It is important to leave it at least a day before you slice into the scandi banana bread. This allows the bread to firm up a bit, which means it is firm enough to be spread with butter. Everything is improved with butter.
300g unpeeled, very overripe bananas
2 large eggs, cracked into a bowl
200ml buttermilk, or full fat natural yoghurt (NOT GREEK OR LOW FAT)
125ml sunflower oil (or any neutral oil)
150g plain flour
175g white rye flour
200g caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
250g lacto-fermented blueberries (or just regular blueberries and a good pinch of salt if you’re a normal person)
2lb loaf tin (the bigger kind)
Preheat oven to 150 Fan and pop a loaf liner* into your tin.
Using a handheld electric whisk and a big mixing bowl (or a freestanding mixer if you’re fancier than me), whisk the bananas on the slow setting until they transform into a whipped mulch which shouldn’t take long if the bananas overripe.
Continue whisking with one hand while you add the pre-cracked eggs with the other.
Measure out your oil and buttermilk into a separate jug. Then get whisking the eggs and banana, slowly pouring the oily buttermilk like you would make a mayonnaise.
Pop your mixing bowl on a scales, set it to zero, and add all your dry ingredients, directly into the wet ones, in whichever order makes sense to you. Whisk the ingredients on the slow setting for a minute to two, until fully incorporated into a thick batter.
Fold in 2/3 of the blueberries with a spoon. Don’t whisk, as this will pulverise the blueberries which is not what we want.
Scrape the thick batter into lined loaf tin. Evenly distribute the blueberries across the top of the batter, pushing some down under the surface. We are aiming for an even spread of blueberries throughout each slice.
Bake for around 1 hour, but this is very oven dependent. Get checking from around the 50 minute with a cake tester, or a piece of uncooked spaghetti. The tester should come out clean.
Be prepared for the cake to take anywhere up to 1 hour 15 minutes. If it doesn’t come out clean, put it back in for 5mins. If the cake starts to catch, pop a bit of foil to protect the top. Although this may sound very wishy-washy, baking really depends on the individual oven. You shouldn’t really rely on a recipe for this part.
Leave to cool completely in the tin. Once cooled, put the tin in a Tupperware or wrap in a bit of cling for about 24 hours, or at least overnight.
Slice bread thinly, spread butter thickly.
*You can line your tin the manual way, snipping greaseproof paper and greasing the tin – but they sell the paper lines on lakeland and amazon and they will just make your life so much easier.