One cold January week, I just couldn’t get away from banana bread. A loaf packed up in string and brown paper arrived in the post from a baker friend; another friend emailed me asking for my ultimate banana bread recipe; and I arrived at a third friend’s house to the smell of a loaf in the oven. The signs were there: It was a week for banana bread and a quest for the best loaf I could make.
This was the result. Deeply seeded, it’s a blend of all the good things from the different loaves I made. Trust me on the brave use of seeds—they make the bread. I use the same mixture every time—50 grams of golden flax seeds, 50 grams of poppy seeds and 50 grams of black sesame seeds—but any tiny seeds would work.
Banana bread is brilliant, as there is so little sugar needed to make something that feels like a real treat. I like to keep the bananas quite chunky so you can see some bits in the cake, but mash them up completely if you prefer.
The cake stays very moist because of the bananas, so don’t worry if it looks quite soft as you slice into it—that’s what makes it so delicious. You can also swap in gluten-free flour.
The seeds in this cake contain a long list of vitamins and minerals and hence have amazing health benefits. Little flax seeds are the richest plant source of omega 3, which helps our brains, joints, and immune systems; they can also help level out hormones and are packed with fiber. So eat your cake and know it’s doing you some serious good. Having your cake and eating it is what that’s called.
From A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones, published by 4th Estate —The Curious Pear
one good-sized loaf
For the cake:
plain flour (I use unbleached)
whole wheat or spelt flour
light brown sugar
little seeds (see headnote)
good pinch sea salt
medium, ripe bananas, peeled
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
natural or unsweetened soy yogurt or coconut yogurt
eggs, preferably organic or free-range, eggs, beaten
For the lemon sesame drizzle:
tablespoons golden icing sugar, confectioners' sugar, or set honey
Preheat your oven to 400° F (200° C) . Butter and flour a non-stick 450-gram (1-pound) loaf tin (if your loaf tin is not non-stick, line it with parchment paper too).
Put all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl—the flours, sugar, seeds, salt, and baking powder—and mix well.
In another bowl, mash the bananas with a fork (I like to keep them quite chunky), then add the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, yogurt, and eggs and mix well.
Mix the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, taking care not to over-mix—just do enough to make sure it is all combined. Spoon into the loaf tin and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
While your loaf is baking, make the lemon drizzle. Beat the tahini and confectioners' sugar in a bowl until smooth, squeeze in the lemon juice and mix well.
Take your loaf out of the oven and leave it in the pan until it is cool enough to move to a cooling rack. While the loaf is still warm, place a large plate under the rack, then skewer the cake all over, pour over the drizzle and leave it to sink in.
This is delicious on its own, thickly sliced, with a cup of coffee, but sometimes I like to spread the slices with a thick layer of almond or peanut butter.
Best friends Issy and Meg have spent the last decade sitting across tables from each other, travelling the world knife and fork in hand. Photographing bowls of steaming noodles, exotic street food and some of the world's most exciting cooks, Issy makes up the photography side of the duo, while Meg records each bite in words. Considering their equal obsession for food and each other, it was inevitable that the two would eventually combine to become The Curious Pear, intent on bringing you reviews, food features and interviews with the culinary crowd, as well as pieces on their favourite eating spots from around the world. The Curious Pear are the contributing Food Editors at SUITCASE Magazine, bringing you a weekly food column at suitcasemag.com, as well as contributing for Time Out, Food52, Life & Thyme, Trends on Trends, Guest of a Guest and more!