The weather had been quite damp as of late;– it rained the whole of yesterday, and the sun barely peered over the clouds today. I remember as a child, one of my friends used to say that the rain was her most dreaded weather. You had to stay indoors willing for the rain to stop by the fifth time you sing “Rain rain go away…”, and even when you happened to be out while it’s raining, you’ll be restricted by a raincoat, rubber boats, and a huge hat covering half your eyes, that your immediate concern is to break out of the stray jacket, and playing in the rain would be the furthest thing on your mind.
Yet, the rain somehow always spelled comfort for me.
Back when I was in primary school, each time it rained, I knew that by the time the bell rang, my mother would be waiting for me at the school porch. She would sit me by the steps, and while I removed my shoes and socks, passed me a little red plastic bag to put them in. With a small pink towel in hand, she would wipe my feet, before handing me my slippers. While I sit there watching my friends run by to play in the rain, I’d turn and look at my mother lugging my school bag over her shoulder, and the red plastic bag in one hand, and feel a warmth in my heart.
Till this day, the rain always brings me the nostalgic comfort of that childhood memory.
And with a slice of warm banana nut bread just out of the oven, the comfort of a memory could not have been more perfectly interwoven. I know I’ve already pledged allegiance to a particular banana bread recipe, but this loaf just brought on some tough competition. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, but the sultanas and roughly chopped cashew nuts made for a perfect texture that won me over. The bread had the right amount of moistness (after the failed attempt at Dorie’s Black and White Banana Cake, I became very wary of cakes described as moist), and even when I had a slice warmed this morning, it was not dry.
Nigella describes this as “fabulously easy and fills the kitchen with that aromatic fug which is the natural atmospheric setting for the domestic goddess”, and I couldn’t have said it better. I didn’t even bother using a mixer for this; everything was done with a trusty wooden spoon. Minimum fuss, maximum comfort;– my ideal banana bread.
Banana Nut Bread
(adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, p.33)
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
125g butter, melted
300g bananas (about 4 bananas), mashed
60g chopped cashew nuts
- Soak the sultanas in hot water. Set aside for about 10-15mins.
- Preheat the oven to 170C.
- Put the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl, and combine well.
- In another bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add in the mashed bananas.
- Stir in the cashew nuts and drained sultanas.
- Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each addition.
- Pour into a 23 x 13 x 7cm greased loaf tin, and bake for 60-75mins.
Recipe Notes: The original recipe calls for the sultanas to be soaked in bourbon/rum, or orange juice if you prefer non-alcoholic. Add the sultanas to the liquid and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and leave aside until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid.
p/s: To everyone out there, hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones