Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Cardamon Banana Bread

I have three friends who have a phobia of bananas.  Apparently (according to one of those friends), it is the most common food-based phobia you can have...  This recipe is not for them.  One of these banana-phobic friends was a flat-mate for a while and I had to hide my bananas in the cupboard because I refused to give up eating them - I would eat them in private, then hide the skins at the bottom of the bin!  Thanks to Crohn's Disease and a colostomy I get dehydrated very easily and the potassium-rich lovelies are a brilliant way to get some of the mineral back into my system.  They are are the ultimate convenience food, too, ready packed and easy to eat.  The Husband isn't a big fan of bananas either, so I tend to end up with at least one over-ripe specimen from every bunch.  I have made banana bread many times before, usually in the bread maker, following the recipe that came in the user manual.  This time, it's different.

I am delighted to be taking part in the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally, this month hosted by Silvana at Silvana's Kitchen.

My Mum always taught me that baking is an exact science.  Before I was born she worked in a laboratory and when she later went to catering college she was asked how her previous occupation could lead her to want to train as a chef: she explained, cooking is chemistry - if you understand the latter, then all you need are technique and creativity to do the former.  As a child, I loved to perch at the kitchen counter and watch as she made scones and explained how all the various elements in the recipe combined and the chemical reactions that took place.  Knowing all of this gave me the confidence to bake any recipe.  After I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease I lost that confidence - without gluten, I couldn't be sure that what I knew was still applicable - then I was further dispirited by some major flops in the kitchen (sausage flavour chocolate cookies, anyone?!).

It was time to go back to basics.  I learned to accept that, with the right ratios, you can substitute regular flour for gluten free alternatives, Michael Ruhlman's book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking was a great starting point.  Understanding the ratios of flours to fat to eggs to liquids, etc is the basis of successful baking; if you know the ratio, you don't even need a recipe - you are free to improvise and invent.  Then I read about the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally on Gluten Free Girl's blog and I knew that I wanted to sign up.

Each month a growing group of bloggers will be focusing on one gluten-free baked good and coming up with recipes to inspire you.  This month it's quick breads and muffins, the ratio for this is: 2 parts flour:2 parts liquid:1 part egg:1 part fat.  Check out Silvana's Kitchen for the other recipes

Cardamon Banana Bread
It might sound like an odd combination of flavours (I could actually hear my Dad wince over the phone when I told him what I was baking!) but trust me... Not just for curries, cardamon is a hugely underrated spice, it is warming and soothing, and works equally well in sweet or savoury dishes.  

I have found that using a combination of cream of tartar and baking soda gives me a lighter texture than baking powder, but you can substitute these for 1 level teaspoon of baking powder (check it's gluten free) if you wish.

106g brown rice flour
50g buckwheat flour
68g tapioca flour
2 level tsp (8g) cream of tartar
1 level tsp (6g) bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 large eggs
112g butter, softened
110g banana, pureed 
114g natural yoghurt
100g golden caster sugar
10 green cardamon pods
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius/325 degrees Fahrenheit/Gas mark 3.
  • Squash your cardamon pods and remove the little seeds from inside.  Using a mortar and pestle, finely crush the cardamon seeds and salt together.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flours, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and crushed cardamon seeds/salt mixture.
  • Beat together the eggs, pureed banana, yoghurt and softened butter.  Add to the dry ingredients and combine using an electric whisk. The mixture will be a bit lumpy, don't worry about that.
  • Pour the mixture into a greased, 2lb loaf tin.  Bake for 1 hour, you'll know it's ready when a metal skewer comes out clean.

My Husband insists that the best way to eat this is warm, with custard, I like it with a dollop of yoghurt and a drizzle of honey. Or as is, with a cup of tea!

(The joy of the ratio is that if you don't do dairy, for example, you can use margarine and all banana instead of yoghurt, or, if you don't have one, or any, of the flours, you can swap it for whatever you have got!)



  1. Oh, cardamom is a great spice! I haven't ever used it with bananas - thanks for this!

  2. I'm a little embarrassed to admit I haven't yet met a green cardamom pod - but now I will have to go looking. It is a splendid spice and well under-used. Must have been great growing up learning about food chemistry - I would have loved that. The bread looks fabulous.

  3. Oooh I love the sound of cardamom and banana together. I can't imagine how awful it would be to be afraid of bananas, I love banana flavor in baked goods!

  4. Banana and cardamom sounds like a wonderful flavor combination! Though cardamom is used in savory dishes, I tend to think that, on it's own, it's a very "pretty" spice--perfect for something like this. Looks great!

  5. You don't have to convince me. I adore cardamom. Lately, I've been using it in everything. So I would very much like some of your bread.

  6. Thanks for the comments, I loved making this quickbread.

    I use cardamon in pannacotta, and pair it with chili in chocolate truffles, too!

  7. You pair it with chili in chocolate truffles? Amazing!!

  8. I love cardamom SO MUCH. I especially love it in my oatmeal. But I've never thought to pair it with banana! Great idea!

    I once had a classmate with such an aversion to bananas that he'd get physically sick. He used to get tormented a lot at lunchtime. :( Anyway, I always felt bad that he had to live a banana-free life!

  9. I've actually never used cardamom at all, sounds really good though!

  10. Oh yummy! The first time I used cardamom was in a cherry bread that smelled fantastic, but was eh. Second time I doubled the spice and I was in love! I think I will try this just for me!

  11. Love this recipe; your picture looks perfect and each slice looks amazing! I seriously want a slice right now...thanks for the great recipe.

  12. I admit to being a bit tired of banana bread - my husband asks for it so often - adding cardamon pods
    many awaken my interest in it. I love the idea of cardamon in anything! I'm glad to be introduced to your site thru the ratio rally!