I spent Monday driving out to Boonah (or being driven out, as it were). Boonah is about an hour south of Brisbane. An easy drive, we left under heavy grey clouds and drove through until the skies were clear blue, studded with long cotton-wool wisps of white. The country is dry at the moment, shades of brown intersected by the highway and copses of deep green trees. Before we left on our way back, we picked up takeaway coffee and cake from the local cafe The Story Tree. I got a slice of lime and coconut cake and by the time we had walked back to the car, it was gone. And it was delicious.
We spent the day in Boonah launching a storytelling program for the region, an exploration of memory, truth and history. Author Kristina Olsson (whose book Boy, Lost is a heartbreaking and incredible read) spoke eloquently about the slippery nature of truth, about the way that when we tell the stories of our childhood, our families, our histories, everything is filtered through our imperfect and inherently subjective memories. That any single event or moment from the past can have multiple truths, depending on who is doing the remembering.
As part of this project, we’re encouraging participants to dig up old family recipes, and the stories contained therein. The connection between food and memory is a strong one. S was cooking pea and ham soup the other day, and I was instantly transported back into my childhood home when mum would make pea soup with flour dumplings that we loved. To this day, baked cheesecake still conjures up memories of Friday night dinners, our dining room full of family and friends talking, a table scattered with after-dinner coffee cups and almost-finished glasses of red wine.
Of course, one of the classic nostalgia dishes is the humble banana bread. Everyone has (or should have) a recipe (or two) up their sleeve, and the smell of banana bread baking is one of comfort, one of home. That said, I find that the title banana bread is usually a misnomer – mostly, I feel like I’m eating cake. Don’t get me wrong, I do love cake, but if I’m going to be eating it in the morning I at least like it to pretend to be bread. This Banana & Rosemary Loaf straddles the bread/cake line. It isn’t overly sweet and includes healthy things like bananas and yoghurt and wholemeal flour. It’s herby and dense, and really rather delicious both freshly baked, or the next morning toasted with a bit of butter.
It is the tahini-vanilla glaze though that tips it back towards the cake side of the line. You could, I suppose, skip the glaze altogether but trust me, you don’t want to. This glaze is SO. FUCKING. GOOD. I love tahini, and I love tahini desserts like halva, but it wasn’t until
reading procrastinating with Molly Yeh’s lovely blog that I realised how easily tahini can be incorporated into sweet stuff. And this glaze is, of course, only the start…
This Banana & Rosemary Loaf is the perfect thing to bake on a Sunday afternoon and have on your bench for the week. Wrap it up in your lunchbox for morning tea, alongside a coffee for a sneaky Monday brekky, or for an afternoon treat in the autumn sunshine.
Banana & Rosemary Loaf with Tahini-Vanilla Glaze
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup coconut sugar
3 (very) ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup plain yoghurt
1 tbsp rosemary leaves
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 tbsps tahini
1 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 180° celsius/350° fahrenheit. Grease a small loaf pan and set aside.
In a bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Using a fork mash the bananas in a large bowl. Add the coconut sugar and eggs and mix thoroughly to combine. Add the olive oil, vanilla essence and yoghurt. Finely chop the rosemary leaves and stir through.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined (take care not to overmix). Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes, or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in pan for 10 – 15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
While the cake is cooling prepare the glaze by whisking together the sugars, vanilla essence, tahini and water. Once the cake is completely cooled pour the glaze over the top, letting the excess drip down the sides.
Notes: this will last a good 3 – 4 days on the kitchen bench or in the fridge in a sealed container.