A year ago, banana bread was the top Google Google search recipe in America. But by the end of the year, it was barely reaching the top 10 for searches. And in 2021, as people leave their kitchens at home, it barely comes back into the conversation.
Not so fast.
In his wonderful new book, Cook, eat, repeat: ingredients, recipes and stories (Ecco; $ 32), released April 20, Nigella Lawson makes a compelling case to bring back the cult of banana bread.
Lawson’s tome is well suited to times of pandemic, even though it was a pre-Covid project. âThe title Cook, Eat, Repeat is a lot like a description of the year we’ve just had,â Lawson said in an email message. âI found myself thinking about cooking and consuming under confinement, and that influenced the book. “
She got rid of the chapter âHow to Invite Your Friends to Dinner, Without Hating Them or Yourselfâ, which she called âgiddy out of step with the way we live and thinkâ, and added more dishes for one. More importantly, she went further into the kitchen. “I think this only intensified my thoughts on food, its potential to enhance the emotional content of the day and provide pleasure and structure, when both were so badly needed.”
The book is a lot of fun to read, with hopscotch chapters of “What’s a Recipe?” to âA Loving Defense of Brown Foodâ and âPlaisirs,â the section in which Lawson’s Tahini Banana Chocolate Bread is located. Anecdotal recipes and top notes span pages for dishes like Chicken in a Pot with Orzo and Lemon, so you feel like Lawson, a great conversationalist, is chatting while you stir.
Although London-based Lawson says she didn’t bake much banana bread during the pandemic, she spent time creating an additional genius out of her recipe. It gives the possibility of turning the bread into a melted cake by adding Greek yogurt, changing a few other amounts of ingredients, and then baking it in a round dish.
âI have to try a variation, which is to turn it into a hot dessert, with a squidgy texture and a melted center. It was actually perfect for someone who lived and ate on their own in lockdown, as I was, as it turned something familiar into a lavish treat.
To see Lawson’s chocolate cake adaptation, you’ll need to purchase the book, but until then the bread version is a hit. What makes it special is the addition of tahini, which brings a nutty touch and extra sweetness. âI thought if chocolate and peanut butter worked so well together, then chocolate and sesame seed butter – which is more or less what tahini is – could be wonderful,â she says. “And they really are.”
Tahini also acts as a leader, bringing together all the other ingredients. âWhy I particularly like this banana bread is that the rich bitterness of cocoa and the smoke of tahini, offset by the sweetness of the banana, really gives it a complex flavor and a sophisticated side,â Lawson says. I never could.
Another thing to remember about banana bread before Earth Day on April 22 is the OG of Lean Recipes, highlighting an ingredient that might otherwise be thrown out because it’s too brown or bruised. Cook, eat, repeat also offers a recipe for using banana peels in a cauliflower curry. The skins, soaked in hot water, “have a wonderfully velvety texture and soak in the spices,” she writes, adding that making a meal with recycled leftovers thrills her. âWhile I’m often definitely extravagant when it comes to food, I never waste,â Lawson says.
The following recipe is adapted from Cook, eat, repeat by Nigella Lawson. Note from testers: If your bananas are not overripe, you can add an extra tablespoon of sugar to the batter. To make it vegan, Lawson suggests omitting the egg, increasing the mashed bananas to a generous 1 cup and the tahini to â cup, and using dairy-free chocolate chips.
Banana Chocolate Tahini Bread
For 8-10 people
2 medium-sized, very ripe or overripe bananas (to make three quarters of a cup mashed)
A quarter cup of olive or vegetable oil
A quarter cup of tahini, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
A quarter of a cup of superfine sugar
3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Half a cup of all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour
3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
Half teaspoon of baking soda
A quarter of a teaspoon of fine sea salt
Two-thirds cup of sweet and sour chocolate chips
1 teaspoon and a half of sesame seeds
Heat the oven to 325F. Lightly oil a 1 lb loaf pan or line with parchment paper. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mash the bananas, then beat them in the oil, then the tahini. Then add the egg, then the sugars and vanilla. Using a whisk or a fork, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, then slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixture. dough. When you no longer see any white spots, fold in the chocolate chips with an angled spatula, which you will need to scrape the dough that runs out of the loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes until risen and firm to the touch, or until a toothpick comes out almost clean; a few chocolate chips will make it a bit sticky in places. Don’t worry about the cracks on the top; that’s part of his deal.
Let cool completely in its mold on a wire rack. If you can stand the wait, take it out of the pan and wrap it in parchment paper, then foil and leave it for a day before slicing and eating. I understand if that’s too much to ask.