1 Suzie the Foodie: Rachel Allen's Banana Bread & Cookbook Review of "Bake"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Rachel Allen's Banana Bread & Cookbook Review of "Bake"

Rachel Allen's Banana Bread

Last Christmas I received the cookbook Rachel's Baking Secrets (although my book is entitled "Bake") from my mom for Christmas and have had a great time testing out the recipes. I absolutely adored watching Rachel Allen's show Bake, so much so I had to get her cookbook. I have made her Apple and Oat Crumble, Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies and totally screwed up her Coconut Macaroon Tart which ended up being the tastiest kitchen disaster I have ever made. Still, I wanted to make one more of her treats before doing a review of the cookbook: the classic banana bread.

Rachel Allen's Banana Bread

Yes, it was another dark and dreary baking day and I needed to help inspire my baking mojo by making banana bread which is a big comfort food in our home. Like all European cookbooks, Rachel Allen's is no different. You are going to need a scale... for everything! Here we have 250 g (9 oz) of self-raising flour (actually, no it isn't, it's just regular flour with 2 tsp of baking powder mixed in), a pinch of salt, 1 tsp additional baking powder that has all been sifted together. Then I added 150 g (5 oz) of sugar and 100 g (3 1/2 oz) of softened butter.

Rachel Allen's Banana Bread

With my fingers I mixed together until everything was kind of crumbly.

Rachel Allen's Banana Bread

I whisked 2 eggs with 1 tsp of vanilla and some clementine zest. Then I mashed in 475 g (17 oz) about 4 small peeled bananas with a fork, you could also use a potato masher.

Rachel Allen's Banana Bread

I added the wet ingredients to the dry, bringing everything together gently.

Rachel Allen's Banana Bread

Then I added some chocolate chips. The original recipes calls for things like raisins soaked in rum and something called glace cherries which sound a lot like maraschino cherries but I was not sure so I went with the chocolate variation instead.

Rachel Allen's Banana Bread

I was doing fine until I put it in the pan I lined with parchment paper, realizing I forgot to grease it! Damn it. I threw it in a 325F oven for an hour. Sometimes her recipes call for a very hot oven which can scorch my treats but not in this case, this is the traditional temperature for baking banana bread.

Rachel Allen's Banana Bread

Thankfully, it came out of the tin after it cooled without any issues. Impressive!

Rachel Allen's Banana Bread

Light, delicate and delicious, once again Rachel Allen's Bake truly delivers. This is a beautiful hard cover book that even has a ribbon placeholder with stunning photographs. It is true that maybe only 30% of the recipes have a photo but they are beautiful. I have many cookbooks that I love that do not have any that are not half as pretty.

I do get a little frustrated when it comes to temperatures in the book. I am not convinced that the book's conversion of gas marks is quite accurate when it comes to Fahrenheit because I have come close to burning some of the treats I have tried to make from this book. Always using a scale can be a bit tedious but I know there are a lot of people who are used to baking this way who will love how this cookbook is written. Using a scale will actually ensure more baking successes in the long run so if you want this book, make sure you have a scale.

I loved this banana bread, it was moist and delicious and worthy of four out of five wooden spoons. Opening the pastel pages of this cookbook and looking for my next treat is always exciting. I give Rachel Allen's Bake four and a half out of five wooden spoons. This cookbook is downright charming and a treasure in my kitchen.


Grocery Alerts Canada said...


Those are great photos.

Any tips on taking a great photo? (I notice some of those don't have much natural light - do you use an external source?

Janice said...

I have the book! It is amazing, you have to try the Dutch Apple Cake, it is the best apple cake I've ever tasted and super simple to make.

Suzie Ridler said...

GAC, thank you! It is tough when there is very little natural light. The kitchen shots required having the lights on which explains the yellowish glow but the "real" shots I did take with what little natural light we have. I try to avoid using lights whenever possible. I just put it up as close to the window as I can, open up the aperture and kick up the ISO and hope it's in focus! I do use a piece of white cardboard to bounce whatever light there is back on to the food which helps a ton.

Janice, I will definitely try that recipe for Dutch Apple Cake now, thanks for the recipe recommendation, that is awesome!

Alison said...

lovely cake. You are so brave to bake without parchment. I parch everything! even nonstick pans!

elena said...

dearest suzie ...

the banana bread looks soooooo tasty!!!! :))))

oh and something else!!!!

I have a little surprise for you in my latest blog post!!!! :)))))

Tammy said...

Oddly enough, this is the ONLY way I'll eat bananas. I don't like them any other way than in bread. This sounds like a yummy one!

AvaDJ said...

Looks fantastic and what a great photo! You mentioned she suggests rum soaked raisins, wow I bet that would taste awesome. You can never go wrong with the choco chips though, what a treat.

haridelle said...

Once you get used to the measurements, you won't need a scale. I can assure you that most Europeans don't have kitchen scales :)

As for the bread, I've baked it with rum soaked raisins and chopped walnuts and the flavor is absolutely amazing (although it looks pretty good with chocolate chips, too). You should try it.

Suzie Ridler said...

Alison, luckily I did remember to parchment the bottom, just forgot the oil the pan. Can't believe it came out!

Elena, sounds intriguing but you seem to have no profile so I can't come and see. :(

Tammy, how odd! Well, I hope you like this one, it's a great banana bread and now you can get the potassium too!

Thank you Ava and yes, I will make it with the rum raisins and glace cherries one day but I wanted something traditional that day. Next time!

Haridelle, I can not imagine being able to figure out weight just by looking at flour. I bet that version is amazing and will definitely give it a shot!

Shell said...

Banana Bread, ah I love it so. I never realized how easy it was to make until a year ago.
Yours look so yummy. I use to watch Rachel Allen on a local pbs show here. I should check out her book. Her show is warm and fuzzy to me.

Kara aka Mother Henna said...

Suzie, you are a dream as I have been looking for another banana bread recipe to try and this loooooksss yuuuuuummmmmy! Thank you!

Also, I wanted to comment on your other post about why you are gluten free and just say that I soooooooooo *get it*!! My husband was diagnosed in the Fall with crazy digestive GI track stuff. Everyone immediately said it was because he doesn't eat enough greens and started trying to shove kale down his throat. The more hearty greens he ate, the worse he got. The doctor finally told us there is no prescription and we had to experiment. Finally my hubby told me: "my body like this, my body hates that." And we went with whatever he is actually hungry for... amazingly, he gets fiber in a very different way than most. And once we started listening to what he feels good eating, he's been doing much better. Even testing things we never thought he'd eat again.

Anyway, all that just to say that everyone was *certain* they knew the answer, but thankfully, our doctor said no one could know but hub himself. What a gift! Now it's big experimenting in the kitchen :)

Sending hugs to you!!

Suzie Ridler said...

Shell, I totally feel the same way about Rachel's show, she makes me feel all warm and fuzzy too!

Kara, isn't that amazing how your husband learned how to listen to his body and now he is feeling so much better?! I am so happy to hear he is feeling better. So happy to hear you are experimenting in the kitchen, totally loved the last loaf you made and hopefully this will be a big hit too!

Kim with a K said...

I'm going to look for this book! Your pictures look amazing!!!
I just purchased Rachel's Favourite Food at Home - (I've never heard of her before...boy have I been missing out!!!)
I made her Chocolate Cake (with buttermilk!!!) tonight - excellent!
Earlier this week I made her Maple Syrup and Pecan Muffins...delicate and yummy!
Love your blog!

Suzie Ridler said...

Thank you Kim! Isn't Rachel amazing? I adore her! Going to have to look up that cake recipe, LOL. Good to know about those maple muffins too. Thank you so much!

Kim with a K said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I am beyond ecstatic that you are following me...WOW!!!
I have been waiting for my "tech team" to put your blog on my page...good help is hard to find!!! I've been following you for a while...is that a lurker?
Your blog is amazing!!!

Suzie Ridler said...

No worries Kim, that tech stuff is always challenging, I know, not to mention good help. Yes, that is a lurker. :) I am glad you finally came out and said hello! Looking forward to getting to know you more.

jamJAMjam said...

Thanks for posting this recipe! I have just moved to Canada from the UK and I used to make this all the time. Unfortunately the book belonged to my friend so I couldnt bring it with me. This cake is so delicious and keeps well. I have tried all the variations and they are all great. You can also soak the sultanas/raisins in apple juice to make them plumper if you dont like rum. Glace cherries aren't quite maraschino cherries, they are cherries soaked in sugar and can be natural colours, red, yellow or green (you can get them in safeway here). Im glad that you have put the weights in g/oz - I hate cooking with cups! Now I know what Im going to do with my afternoon!! Thanks again!!

yunika umar said...

Hi Suzie,

I am also rachel allen's fans and i did the same thing like you by substituting it wd chocolate chips since i can't hv liquor. and yes, taste is good. I love most of her recipes and techniques though the simple white bread i made was a failure.Her bagel recipe is awesome, just like the bakery one.

Suzie Ridler said...

Hi Yunika! Isn't Rachel Allen awesome? Love that woman! I failed trying to make her focaccia, it happens. Oh wow, totally going to try her bagel recipe, thank you for letting me know!