Have you ever noticed how some pastries, cakes or breads seem to transgress cultures? Such as banana loaf? Growing up in South Africa, it was one of my favorite breads. Having moved to the United States, I now realize that Americans too have sort of a love affair with this beloved treat. And why not. The combination of sweet, ripe bananas; creamy butter; sugar and more creates a luscious and tender treat that is irresistible. And there are as many recipes for it than there are bakers who love to bake it.
As an avid baker and never one to follow convention, I created this recipe with a twist. The loaf is topped with a generous layer of streusel, which thanks to the nuts, takes on a slightly crunchy texture once it is baked. Upon cutting the loaf, each slice reveals a delicately cushioned streusel surprise. What's more, this loaf is even better the next day.
Oscar Wilde once said: “I can resist everything except temptation” and “The only way to rid temptation is to yield to it.” So why fight it. Sit down, rest your weary feet, pour yourself a cup of tea and succumb to the sweetness that is banana loaf. You've certainly earned it.
6 Tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
6 Tablespoons cake flour
4 Tablespoons vegan butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
¾ cup almond or soy milk
1 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups cake flour
½ teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup vegan butter
1 cup evaporated cane sugar
3 large ripe bananas, finely mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To Make the Streusel
Combine the sugar, flour, butter, ginger, cinnamon and pecans in a medium bowl. Using your fingertips, mix the ingredients until they are well incorporated and the clumps are the size of peas. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To Make the Loaf
Preheat oven to 325F (163C). Liberally grease a 9 ½ x 5 ½ inch loaf pan with vegan butter. In a small bowl or beaker, stir together the soy milk and vinegar. Let it stand for 5 minutes; it'll curdle like buttermilk. Add the applesauce to the soy milk and whisk to blend. Set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl and using an electric or a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the bananas and vanilla extract and continue to beat until thoroughly blended.
Alternating, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then ½ of the milk mixture to the batter, beating well after each addition. Continue alternating. Be sure to end with the flour mixture.
Scrape half of the batter into the greased pan. With the longest sides of the loaf pan facing you and leaving a half inch of batter on either side, sprinkle about ½ cup of the streusel down only the centre of the loaf. Scrape the remaining batter over the streusel and top the loaf with the remaining streusel, pressing it down slightly into the batter.
Bake for 90-100 minutes, or until wooden skewer inserted into the cener comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the loaf with a blunt knife and invert loaf onto a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing or storing. Wrap in foil and store covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. If freezing, cut into slices, then wrap in foil and plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.