Japanese sweets don’t do it for everyone, however they do do it for me. There isn’t one I’ve tried and disliked, and I’ve tried a lot, from daifuku to warabi mochi, I love them all. But I do feel a certain element of stodge is missing, stodge that I crave and can’t satisfy with airy cakes and beany delights. The airy cakes I’m referring to are the western named cakes on offer, but which are much lighter than their native counterparts.
So after a failed quest to find stodgy delights, I decided to attempt baking my own. My first and now staple bake is banana bread, a firm favourite of mine since I can remember.
Baking western treats can seem a little challenging in Japan as ingredients can be hard to find and most small apartments are often ovenless, but if you have a microwave with the oven (オーブン) setting then you’re ready to roll.
I’ve played around with a few recipes, substituting honey instead of sugar and yoghurt instead of butter, but I eventually settled on the recipe which my Mum uses.
- 3 bananas
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup (220g) brown sugar
- 1 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- ½ tbsp salt
- ½ cup of butter
- a few drops of vanilla essence
- ½ cup walnuts
Optional: add cinnamon and nutmeg for a spiced kick.
Kitchen Utensils and Equipment:
- Loaf baking tin
- Baking paper or a cake tin liner 190x90x65cm
- Optional blender
- 2 large bowls
- 1 sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Wooden spatula
– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
– If you have a blender, mix the 3 eggs and 3 bananas until creamy, if not get mashing! Leave aside.
– Cream the butter and sugar, if the butter is very hard then you could heat it up for a few seconds on the hob. Then gradually pour in the egg and banana mixture, while mixing, until all incorporated.
– Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Once done, add with the other mixture, mix until all the flour mix is creamy.
– Chop the walnuts and then mix in.
– If you have a cake tin liner, then this will make transferring the cake mixture into the tin and then the baked loaf out, very easy. Baking paper also is fine, but you have to carefully cover the whole tin to avoid the mixture sticking to the tin.
– Bake for about 1 hour, in my microwave oven 70 minutes is just right. I suggest checking at about 50 minutes to give you and idea of how much more time it requires, when ready an inserted toothpick will come out clean. Cool the bread in the tin, on a rack for 5 minutes. Turn the bread out of the tin and let cool completely on the rack.
The next day it should taste simply scrumptious. I like to have a slice (or 2) for breakfast. Wrap in cling film and it should stay nice and moist for 3-4 days.
Optional: Bowl Licking
One of my fondest memories of baking as a child was licking all the left over mixture off the wooden spoon, I’ve realized this treat is still enjoyable in adulthood. Makes washing up easier too!