The Classic Banana Bread

Banana Bread with Blueberry Orange Sauce
One of our all-time favourite recipes, from Viva!’s Vegan Recipe Club

Ingredients:

  • 3 large, very ripe bananas (those spotty ones on special offer are just the job. Cheap, too)
  • 60g/2oz vegan margarine, eg Pure, Suma, Biona or Vitaquell OR 50ml vegetable oil (mild-flavoured type, eg refined plain veg oil or sunflower)
  • 100g/generous 3oz soft brown sugar
  • 250g/9oz self-raising flour. We like using half each fine wholemeal SR* and white SR, but all-white works too. GF flour works too
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (not flavouring)
  • 5 tbsp soya milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped dates or other chopped fruit of your choice. NB Ready-chopped dates are on sale in larger supermarkets and many health food shops
  • Optional: chopped walnuts/pecans/brazils – or sunflower seeds

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 – a little lower if using a fan-assisted oven. Grease a large non-stick loaf tin with low-cal oil spray or a light coating of margarine/oil.  Add a base layer of greaseproof paper too. Alternatively, use a loaf tin liner OR use a silicone loaf tin placed on a tray!
2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork or potato masher. Add the margarine and cream it all together well – that is, mix it so it has a fairly creamy texture.
3. Add the sugar and mix in well.
4. Sieve the flour and baking powder then add the banana mixture and stir well.
5. To this, add the soya milk and vanilla essence a little at a time, mixing in well.
6. Add dried fruit – and nuts/seeds if using.
7. Spoon batter into the loaf tin and cook for 40-50 minutes until cooked through and golden brown on the top. Test after 40 minutes, using a toothpick – it should come out clean if it’s ready – otherwise, put the cake back in the oven for another 10-20 minutes.
If using a silicone baking tin, leave on the metal tray until cooled completely as otherwise the cake will split.
8.  Leave to cool for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.

The Famous Affinities Cake

The Affinities Cake
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 mins

200g (7oz) plain flour
75g (2¾oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g (7oz) golden caster sugar
100g (3½oz) ground almonds
A small pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
400ml (14fl oz) prune juice
Fresh pink rose petals, to decorate
For the ganache
170g (6oz) good-quality dark chocolate
150ml (5fl oz) almond milk

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Grease the insides of a deep 20cm (8in) round cake tin, or loose-bottomed 20cm (8in) cake tin, with olive oil and line the bottom of the tin with greaseproof paper. If you are using a loose-bottomed tin, double-line it with greaseproof paper (line the base, the sides, then line the base again to seal the lining), to prevent the mixture leaking out.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, then add the sugar, ground almonds and salt. Make three holes in the dry mixture with a spoon. Put the vanilla in one hole, the vinegar in the second, and the oil into the third. Pour in the prune juice and mix well. Bubbles will start to rise to the surface. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the cake from the tin and leave it to cool on a wire rack.

To make the ganache icing, blitz the chocolate into crumbs in a food processor. Place the crumbs in a heat-proof glass bowl. Heat the milk to boiling point in a heavy-based saucepan, then pour the milk over the chocolate. Gently mix the chocolate with the milk, working from the centre of the bowl outwards with a rubber spatula, until you have a smooth and glossy emulsion. Let it cool to room temperature, then spread it on top of the cooled cake.

NB this cake usually takes about 1 hour 15 mins to cook! Keep testing it, but don’t take it out of the oven to do so, otherwise it may sink.