Spicy Banana Bread


When I woke up this morning, I decided that I needed a slice of comfort. The last week has been thesis-driven and consequently migraine-heavy, and there’s nothing that makes the pain go away quite like a day off. I slept in, I read (for fun!), and I spent the afternoon baking the most comforting recipe I could think of. Soft, crunchy, and full of spice, this banana bread is a lifelong favorite. My grandmother used to make it when I was little, and it was the first thing I made for her on my own. It comes out of a very floral and very 1980s book called A Token of Friendship, that one of her best friends gave her when she was leaving Manhattan behind to come and take care of me. We’ve modified it over the years, upping the spice and banana quantities, and it’s remained a family favorite.

To make one loaf:

  • 260g/2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ heaped teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ heaped teaspoon cloves
  • 115g/ ½ cup softened butter
  • 22gg/1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 60ml/¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 175°C (165°C fan)/ 350°F, grease and flour* a loaf tin.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices into a large bowl. Dry whisk together.

With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the mashed bananas, vanilla, and orange juice.

Add dry ingredients, one cup at a time. Fold in nuts.

Pour the mixture into prepared loaf tin and bake for one hour or until a knife comes out clean. Let cool in tin.

The cake is ideally served warm and crunchy, half  to three quarters of an hour out of the oven but is also excellent room temperature, cold, or even toasted with butter, honey, or peanut butter!

*to do this, grease the tin with a layer of butter and chill in the fridge for ten minutes. Add a second layer of butter and then add a tablespoon of flour to the tin. Slowly rotate the tin, gently tapping it, until all of the sides and the bottom are covered in a thin layer of flour. You can return the tin to the fridge until you’re ready to use it.