We spend a happy hour sitting on the terrace, enjoying the winter sun, cracking walnuts. These are stored in an airtight container in the pantry and used for my favourite banana bread [courtesy of Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess]. The rest are stored in their shells. They stay freshest this way: little nuggets of protein waiting to liven up salads and cakes, pasta… they even find their way into stir-fries. Nigella’s divine loaf is impossible to get wrong. This is the cake to make when you have some sorry-looking bananas left in the fruit bowl, the squidgier the better.
75 ml dark rum
175g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
125g melted unsalted butter [impossible to find this in Spain, salted butter or sunflower margarine works just as well]
150g white sugar
2 large eggs
4 small bananas, very ripe & mashed
60g chopped walnuts [almonds are fine as a substitute]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the sultanas and rum in a smallish saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and leave for an hour if you can, or until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain. Melt the butter. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325°F/gas mark 3 and get started on the rest. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. With your wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract.
Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit. Scrape into the loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 to 1¼ hours. I find my oven requires a piece of foil put on top of the cake for the second half of the baking time. When it’s ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool and eat thickly or thinly sliced, with or without butter, as you prefer. This loaf freezes perfectly. There’s no need to buy bananas especially. Whenever you have any bananas going squidgy and black, simply peel and freeze them. My freezer [we have three!] is full of small bags containing 3-4 blackish bananas. Defrosted, they are even squidgier but don’t be put off, as the cake still comes out perfectly. The bananas I used for this cake were still a little firm, and so held their shape better in the finished cake.
5 to remember
hermético/a – airtight
el recipiente – container
la diosa doméstica– the domestic goddess
una pepita – a nugget
la proteína – protein
‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ by Nigella Lawson