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Caramel, Banana and Walnut Loaf Tinned Loaf

What a strange time we are going through politically, with plenty of madness in every direction it seems to me. It makes me want to take shelter with some comfort food. Something with both nuts and bananas (nice straight ones if you believe the Euromyth!) seems apt.

I asked Vanessa to come up with something along this theme, something we can bake, share and to make you smile. I think we could all do with that!

What's new

We have been hunting for a really good ancient Himalayan rock salt and have at last found it. Amazing stuff, deposited very long ago when the Himalayas were a seabed and packed with minerals, we have three grades of coarseness but refrained from the very largest from which you can make lampstands. The super-fine one perfect to use in bread and a pack goes a really long way. The medium one is good sprinkled on focaccia and the coarse one with dark red crystals looks great in a salt grinder.

We think the salt is fantastic and want you to have the chance to try it for free. The first 25 people who spend more than £20 and place a pouch of the 400g super-fine salt into their basket will be able to get it for FREE! Just enter discount code SALTAN25 at checkout.

I have a huge affinity with walnuts. The trees are found in most small fields in rural southwest France, where I grew up. The local farmers mill them to get walnut oil, staining their hands black from removing the casings in the process, before they are left to dry in the barns. Fresh walnuts are always best if you can get them, they have a light sweet flavour and snap easily, and will be in season in late August. In the meantime I advise buying as new a packet as possible.

The freshest walnuts are best for this along with really ripe bananas, the ones you might think twice about eating. My lovely greengrocer often gives me very ripe bananas knowing that I will use them up and that I will take a slice or two of this loaf back. The more ripe your bananas the more naturally sweet and moist your loaf will be.

I suggest that you find a secure hiding place for the loaf before you begin baking this recipe. Once made it is in real danger of disappearing!

Use a good tin. A cheap lightweight tin does do not get the natural sugars caramelising. A good heavy gauge tin will bake a sweeter moister loaf every time.

Recipe: Caramel, Walnut and Banana Bread


Preheat the oven to 170C (340F).

Grease two 2lb loaf tins and then line the base and sides with baking parchment. The paper should stand about 3cm above the rim of the tin.

Put the butter, sugar, vanilla powder and nutmeg into a bowl or food mixer and whisk on high until it is pale and creamy. Add the eggs, buttermilk, molasses and sourdough then sift in the baking powder and flour and mix. Lightly mash the bananas then fold them with the walnuts lightly through the cake mixture to combine. Pour into the prepared tin.

Reduce the heat to 160C (325F). Bake for between 1 hour and 1 hour and 15 minutes (depending on how large and how ripe your bananas are will change the baking time). If you have a particularly hot oven cover the top of the cakes with foil 20 minutes before the end of baking, to protect them from catching and burning. Use a skewer to test. The skewer should come out clean when inserted into the middle of the loaf. They should be a rich golden colour.

In the meantime, make the caramel sauce. Pour the cream into a heavy-based saucepan over high heat and bring it almost to the boil. Put the water, sugar and the date syrup in another sauce pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves but do NOT stir - just allow it to cook for about 7 – 10 minutes or until the liquid is a caramel colour. Remove from the heat and pour the hot cream into the pan with the caramel. It will be very hot and bubble ferociously so please be careful. Whisk until it is smooth and then whisk in the butter.

Once the cake is ready, take it out from the oven and allow it to cool. Remove from the tin, poke about 40 holes into the cake using the skewer. Pour the caramel sauce over the cake, crushing and sprinkling walnuts over the top and allow to cool. Serve with a dollop of thick cream.

Store for 2-3 days in an airtight container. If you are not serving the same day prepare the caramel sauce and toasted walnuts an hour before serving.


Number of servings: Makes 2 cakes, each cake serves 6-8

Equipment in order of usage: Two 2lb loaf tins Baking parchment and butter for greasing Whisk / Food mixer Sieve Foil Skewer Heavy-based saucepan Hand whisk

Specific flour used: Mulino Marino Organic Sapori Antichi

Ingredients: 200g butter 300g golden caster sugar 1 tablespoon Ndali vanilla powder 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 3 eggs 60g buttermilk 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses 100g unrefreshed sourdough starter (optional) 300g organic white flour 3 teaspoons organic baking powder 6 bananas 125g walnuts

Caramel sauce: 100g double cream 50g water 150g granulated sugar 30g date syrup 40g unsalted butter 100g walnuts lightly toasted in a medium oven

Vanessa Kimbell runs the Sourdough School, Northampton


Do you have a sourdough question for Vanessa? Send it to us and the best ones will appear in our next postbag edition and receive a dough whisk.

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featured products


Organic Sapori Antichi Flour | £4.14

Sapori Antichi is a stone-ground organic flour blending the ancient Kamut and Enkir flours with rye and Farro for breads and rolls, pasta or puddings.

Himalayan Super-Fine Pink Rock Salt | from £2.99

Himalayan rock salt comes from ancient deposits laid down many millions of years ago when the Himalayas were covered by seawater. This super-fine pink Himalayan rock salt is very finely ground to a powder making it ideal for use in baking in general and excellent in bread.

Ndali Organic Vanilla 6 Powder | £5.77

Six Ugandan Fairtrade organic vanilla pods with notes of smoky dates, honey, musk and butterscotch ground to a fine powder, bursting with vanilla seeds. Nothing else.



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