Karen’s Banana Bread

The final product: Banana Bread

Bananas…..seems I am on a bit of a roll with them at the moment, but I have to admit, all along this has been the recipe I’ve been dying to make.  I’m not sure why I didn’t do it first, except perhaps for the time involved.  It’s by far my favourite thing to make with mushy banana’s and a recipe I have been making for years.  I call this recipe Karen’s because, when sharing a house with my sister over the years, I have fond memories of her making this and the wonderful smells it would create in the house.  I believe the original can be attributed to Marieke Brugman who used to make it at her (now closed) Gourmet retreat, Howqua Dale.

This is really truly bread, with flavour, and whilst you have to be patient when waiting for the proving of the yeast to happen, the end result is a silky smooth bread with delightfully light touches of orange and banana in the flavour.  Sweet without being cakey, it’s a beautiful breakfast treat with lashings of butter or cream cheese or a tart orange marmalade.   Bread baking is an art, but one that can be addictive in your goal to produce the perfect textures and flavours.

Banana Bread

  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • pinch brown sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 well-ripened, mashed banana’s
  • 1/4 walnut/olive oil (the walnut oil takes the flavour to a whole other level, but the olive oil does work just as well for the texture of the bread)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 5 1/2 – 6 cups of  unbleached bread flour*

*If you don’t have bread flour you can use 1 tsp gluten flour to 5 cups of plain flour (gluten flour helps give you a light consistency)

mix milk, water, oil, the pinch of brown sugar and yeast together.  The tip here is if your liquids are too hot you will over stimulate the yeast, too cold and it wont get started.  I’ve always been taught that tepid (finger temperature) is the idea temperature to get the yeast started.

In a bowl mix mashed banana, orange zest, chopped walnuts, sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Add the liquid mix.  Mix in the flour in sections until reaching a dough consistency.  If doing this by hand at this point I get the dough out of the bowl and onto the bench to knead in the flour.  Don’t add too much flour or your bread will end up dry.  Better to have a bit of a sticky dough to rise and then add more flour at the next stage.  When the dough is well mixed, having a nice smooth consistency, then put into a bowl to rise.  I cover my dough in cling wrap (ceran) so that the dough doesn’t get a crunchy skin, and leave until it doubles in size.  Once the dough has risen, knock back and knead for approx 5 mins.  separate and shape into the loaves you will be baking, either in a tin or onto a try.  Allow to prove a second time until double in size.

the dough, step one
the dough, after the first rise

Cook in a 160c oven for approx 40 – 45 mins.  Will make 2 loaves.

Yummy toasted, or fresh from the oven, this bread  freezes well too.

Happy Baking,


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