During my childhood, bananas were so abundant and cheap that I could not recall ever not seeing at least one hand of bananas hanging on the wooden pole of my family kitchen. Another reason why we always had more bananas than we could eat was that like many other Chinese migrant families in Indonesia, my parents and grandparents believed that, as newcomers and non-natives, we had to pay our respects to the local guardian spirits, known as Datuk Kong. To do that, we gave regular offerings made up of kemenyan or frankincense, flowers and bananas every Thursday evening, setting them out on custom-made altars in the backyard.
Having lived through difficult times, my parents and grandparents loathed throwing foods away. So, my mom was always nagging us to eat up the bananas and trying to find ways to use them up. By the end of my childhood, not only I, but also my entire family were well and truly over bananas in any form.
I was therefore slightly bemused to find banana bread to be very much loved and appreciated by many Sydneysiders. At the height of its popularity, a slice of “gourmet” banana bread could cost as much as $6 at cafes (an entire loaf of decent bread could cost as little as $2.50).
While looking for easy recipe for something that I could bring to a get-together, I found David Herbert’s banana bread recipe. It seemed so easy that I could not go pass it. Although I was no banana lover, banana bread was widely loved. So, it would be a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
As the banana bread baked in the oven, the smell was incredibly intoxicating. The smelly, overripe, not-so-fine-looking bananas had somehow transformed into deliciousness. The banana bread tasted amazing freshly baked, cold or reheated as a nourishing, easy and fast breakfast.
While I have become a banana bread convert, I am still not paying $6 for a slice of banana bread and I am still not keen on fresh bananas. I have become a keen banana price surveyor though, always looking for discounted fresh bananas, so that I can make another loaf of perfectly perfect banana bread.
Perfectly perfect banana bread
Modified from a recipe in ‘The Really Useful Cookbook’ by David Herbert (2009)
210g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
125g unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
2 eggs lightly beaten
3 very ripe bananas, roughly chopped
30g desiccated coconut
1½ tsp apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a medium loaf pan with baking paper.
Mix all ingredients, except the apple cider vinegar, in a large bowl. Stir in the apple cider vinegar after everything has been well combined. Pour the mixture into the lined loaf pan.
Bake at 170°C for 55-60 minutes. If the banana bread browns too quickly, place a sheet of foil loosely on top of the pan after about 30-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.