Something for the weekend: Banana Bread, Caribbean style


Recipes made with ingredients that are grown locally often mean that the cook has a real understanding of what goes into the mix. So it is with banana bread, according to Grace, the Women's Room's own Caribbean connection who, being a long time resident of St Vincent (where she reckons the best bananas come from) knows her stuff. She's been a cook all her life and has developed a strength of character we would not want to test and have found it best not to argue with her.

Bananas, she reckons, need special understanding to get the best out of them. She would never, for example, attempt to cook banana bread with anything other than very, very ripe bananas, She prefers bicarbonate of soda and vinegar as the raising agent as it is superior tasting and wouldn't dream of using anything less than 6 bananas in each mix. The cake tins must be loaf shape for a better, more even cook and her secret ingredient is a fierce vanilla essence only found in the Grenadines (Doc Primus's vanilla essence) which is far from pure but has gained and important almondy appeal through the additional chemicals introduced.

Grace has given us the recipe to share with you, it will brighten up your Bank Holiday no end but must be made with bananas from the Caribbean.

2lbs bananas, very ripe and having grown under a Caribbean sky

2lbs sugar

6 eggs

1 heaped teasp cinnamon

Good slug of vanilla essence

1 cup milk

2 tablsp oil (we used olive)

2 teasp white vinegar

2lbs plain flour

2 teasp bicarb of soda

Mix the bananas and sugar together in a mixer until they are a smooth, creamy mass with no lumps.

Add the eggs, milk, oil, essence, cinnamon and vinegar, mix well, fold in the flour and bicarb of soda and mix really well until all is smoothly combined and you have a stiff-ish batter you can pour into the lined loaf tins. This mix will make two large loaf tins worth.

Bake for 'as long as it takes' as Grace says, usually at least 45 mins in a gentle 170c oven. For extra decoration add a few slices of banana to the top of te nearly cooked cake about 10 mins before the end of cooking.

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