Baking: Banana Raisin Bread

“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B.King.

Learning is such an enriching experience. It never stops. The more you learn, the more you want to learn. I truly believe that it’s never too late to learn something new. What matters most is passion and an open mind!

Through the birth of this blog, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery. This became a platform for me to explore my love for food, photography, writing and travel. It has become a place for meeting other like-minded people who share the same passion. Be inspired. Learn from others, share knowledge and hopefully, inspire someone along the way. After all, everyone needs a little inspiration, a gentle push from time to time. It always feels inspiring to see or know others who have been in a similar situation and have dared to dream, the once impossible dream. They have achieved it. With the right attitude, so will you!

That’s just a little bit more about me.. Thank you for reading!:)

On the topic of learning, I must tell you that I am no avid baker. I am learning as I go along and would love to bake more and innovate in the near future. Perhaps, one day, I will. I am inspired by so many bloggers around me who bake some really interesting and beautiful cakes and cookies! I first tried baking a loaf when I saw this really interesting recipe of a Rosemary Walnut Loaf by Kankana of Sunshine and Smile.

After my first attempt with a simple walnut loaf, I got a little more confident to attempt a request from my husband – a raisin bread. The two men in my house love it! I, on the other hand, stay far from it. Well, most of the time 🙂 But, I love cooking for them! My go to book for baking is this book by Nigella Lawson. The Banana Bread recipe from Nigella has a good amount of raisins in it and that made it the perfect contender. As luck would have it, I also had some bananas that were very ripe and needed to be consumed immediately. And off I started baking, on a relaxing Sunday evening!

As the book says, this is a perfect recipe for anyone who is new to baking. The result was fabulous and loved by family and friends! The banana bread had a beautiful texture. It was moist and full of flavor at the same time. The alcohol in the raisin evaporates in the cooking and baking process. You will find a taste of rum but it isn’t alcoholic at all. In fact, in her book, Nigella says that this is safe for children to consume as the alcohol doesn’t pervade into the cake.

If you are anything like me in terms of baking, you should really try this recipe. It’s simple enough and totally worth the effort 🙂

Banana Raisin Bread:
For a printer-friendly version of the recipe, please click here.

Serves: about 10 slices

Ingredients:

Golden raisins: ½ cup
Dark rum: 6 tbsp
All-purpose flour: 1 cup + 2 tbsp
Baking powder: 2 tsp
Baking soda: ½ tsp
Salt: ½ tsp
Unsalted Butter: ½ cup
Sugar: ½ cup
Eggs: 2 big
Bananas: 4 Dole (small) very ripe and mashed
Walnuts: 1/4 heaped cup
Vanilla extract: 1 tsp
Loaf Pan: 9 x 5” lined with a paper insert or parchment paper

How I did it:

  1. In a pan, bring the raisins and rum to boil. Turn off and leave it for 1 hour to soak up the liquid. Strain the excess liquid.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 170 deg C.
  3. In a bowl, put the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sieve through once to ensure they are combined well.
  4. Warm up the butter enough to get it melting. Don’t overheat.
  5. Add the butter and sugar to a large steel mixing bowl. Beat this mixture well until it is thoroughly blended. The color will turn pale. I did this using an electric beater for about 15 mins. The time will vary, depending on the equipment used.
  6. Break the eggs and beat it in the sugar+butter mixing bowl above – one by one.
  7. Now beat in the mashed bananas.
  8. Using a wooden spoon, combine the raisins, walnuts and the vanilla extract.
  9. Next, add the flour mixture in 1/3rd portions, combining it well after every addition.
  10. Now pour this mixture into the prepared loaf pan.
  11. Place the loaf pan in the centre of the oven, with both heat sources on. I placed the loaf pan closer to the top heat source.
  12. Bake for 1 hour. The original recipe says it should take anywhere between 1 hour to 1 hour 15 mins. It depends on your oven. Mine took exactly 1 hour. It is advisable to check at the 50 min mark. If it is done, an inserted toothpick will come out clean.
  13. As soon as it is done, using your mittens, place the loaf pan out to cool. Do not take out the banana bread out of the pan until it has cooled down.
  14. Once cool, cut into slices and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea, as you prefer.

Notes:

  1. Use eggs that are at room temperature and not straight out of the fridge.
  2. Same goes for butter, keep the butter out to come down to room temperature a couple of hours before baking.
  3. Place the loaf in the middle level, though, closer to the top heat source than the bottom heat source.
  4. The original recipe says that even though it rum is used, it is safe for kids to consume as the alcohol doesn’t pervade through.

Walnut Brownies… and a new beginning.

As a child, I have been absolutely averse to anything sweet in my food. Yes, absolutely anything sweet with the only exception of sugar in my tea. People often wondered how I never craved for chocolate and I often wondered what was there to like it in the first place? My mom used to make Indian desserts which everyone in the family relished. I never understood how and why.

One day, magic happened 🙂

During my pregnancy about 3 years ago, something changed. It changed my life forever – in a good way. I experienced a new taste, a new flavour so divine. Something, I had never experienced before. It was the same sweet flavours that I detested earlier. And here I was … loving it. Relishing every bite… with a mmmmmmm….. an out of the world experience! I finally discovered my sweet tooth. It was strange… a whole new experience awaited me. It was like discovering a part of me which I had written off long ago. Almost every lunch during those nine months, finished with a brownie and a smile like never before..:)

So, here is my favourite dessert of all – walnut brownies.

This is Nigella Lawson’s Walnut Brownie recipe from her book “The Domestic Goddess”.

I made half the size and therefore halved the ingredients and used a smaller baking dish.

For a printer-friendly recipe, click here.

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups of soft unsalted butter
13 ounces bittersweet chocolate
6 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups chopped walnuts ( I added a little more because I love walnuts!)
Original baking dish size recommended: pan measuring 13x9x2.5 inches. As I made 1/2 the size, I used a smaller baking dish.

How I did it:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Line the sides and the base of the baking pan (preferably square) with aluminum foil.
  2. Melt butter + chocolate together. Use a heavy bottomed pan and extremely low heat to melt this mixture. I used a plate with the above mixture and let the steam melt this mix. Let it cool down slightly before you mix it.
  3. Measure flour into a separate bowl and add the salt in it. Keep aside.
  4. Beat eggs, vanilla and sugar together. Whether you are using an electric mixer or doing it by hand, remember to beat it in one direction only. If you are doing this by hand, it will take about 15 mins to get the right consistency. Do not over beat until the mixture becomes fluffy. The idea is to beat everything well and combine it together. After beating it well, you will notice that the color of the mixture will change.
  5. Once you are satisfied that the above mixture is well beaten, add the slightly cooled chocolate & butter mixture into the mixing bowl where you’ve already beaten the egg, vanilla and sugar. Combine it together.
  6. After mixing the above, add the walnut and the flour. Add the flour slowly bit by bit, mixing it together. It helps to use a sieve for this purpose as it controls the amount of flour going in and gives you enough time to combine the ingredients together and avoid forming any lumps.  The purpose is to bind it together into a smooth mixture – not over-beat it.
  7. Transfer the above mixture into the baking dish prepared.
  8. Bake for 25 mins. When it’s ready, the top should be dry and the inside dense & gooey.
  9. Once done, remove from the oven immediately; let it cool naturally. Don’t leave it inside the oven once it is done. I have done that once and my brownies were a little dry from inside… Remember it cooks even during the cooling process.
  10. Enjoy! 🙂