LOCKDOWN BAKING WITH JULIA BUSUTTIL NISHIMURA
We share a lockdown baking favourite: Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Everyday Banana Loaf with Homemade Butter.
EVERYDAY BANANA LOAF WITH HOMEMADE BUTTER
I’m not saying that this loaf should be eaten every day – more that it is a simple loaf, one that can be made with the most basic ingredients and a few neglected bananas. In fact, the more ripe the bananas, the more natural sweetness they will bring to this loaf. It is perfect eaten warm, by the slice, with a thick slather of butter. When I have excess crème fraîche in the fridge, I often turn it into butter for spreading on fresh crusty bread or, in this case, slices of banana loaf. My suggested quantity of crème fraîche for making the butter yields approximately 200 g of butter and 200 ml of buttermilk, which is a very manageable amount. You can use pure cream instead of crème fraîche to make the butter or, of course, buy some butter instead. Sometimes, when I’m in the mood, I add chunks of dark chocolate to the batter or slice an extra (not so ripe) banana lengthways and press it into the top of the loaf before baking. Sometimes I do both.
2 eggs 150 g raw sugar 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil 21⁄2 tablespoons full-cream milk (or you can use buttermilk from making the butter) 2 very ripe bananas (about 250 g in total) 150 g (1 cup) self-raising flour 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
21⁄2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa 100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped 50 g (1⁄2 cup) walnuts, roughly chopped 1 banana, cut in half lengthways
500 ml (2 cups) crème fraîche pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 24 cm loaf tin with butter and line with baking paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale. Pour in the olive oil and milk and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas until smooth, then mix them into the batter. Sift in the flour and cinnamon. Stir gently, being careful not to overwork the mixture. If you wish to add the cocoa, chocolate and/or walnuts, add them to the mixture now. The cocoa will need to be sifted in, but just stir the chocolate and walnuts through.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and, if using, top with the halved banana. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
For the butter, whisk the crème fraîche in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat until the solids separate, which will take around 7 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and press on the solids to release all of the liquid. That liquid is buttermilk, which you can keep to use for another purpose. Return the solids to the mixer and beat again for another 3–4 minutes to remove more buttermilk, and repeat the straining process. Fill a large bowl with very cold water and, working quickly, knead the butter in the water, squeezing out as much buttermilk as you can. Drain and repeat until the water is clear. Buttermilk left in the solids will make the butter sour, so it is important to remove as much as possible.
Mix in the salt – this flavours the butter, but it also helps it keep for a little longer. It is now ready to use, or you can wrap the butter tightly in baking paper and, as long as you have removed all of the buttermilk properly, it will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
If there’s buttermilk still in the butter, it will sour quite quickly and will only last for about 1 week.
IMAGES | Armelle Habib
THIS IS AN EDITED EXTRACT FROM OSTRO BY JULIA BUSUTTIL NISHIMURA. Published by Plum, RRP $39.99. Available online and where good books are sold.