Mini banana cinnamon bread

I’m always on the look out for delicious ways to use up the bananas that turn brown and manky in my fruit bowl. They sit on the bench in my kitchen just begging to be made into something, rather than being given to our chickens (or stuck in the freezer to be given to our chickens much, much later on!).

I came across a rather nice looking banana bread recipe in Donna Hay’s ‘Modern Classics 2′ book, which I’ve had for a very long time. It’s full of pretty reliable and easy recipes, so I thought I’d give it a go – but since I’m also always thinking about ways to fill up my girls’ lunchboxes, I decided to go mini.

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Mini banana breads ready for baking

Donna Hay’s Banana Cinnamon Bread (minified)

140g softened butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup ground nut meal (I used almond, Donna uses hazelnut)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I love lots, so I doubled her rather measly amount)
1 large banana or 2 small, sliced
Sugar for sprinkling (I used muscavado, Donna uses demerara)

Preheat oven to 180c. Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add egg and beat well. Add the flour, baking powder, nut meal, buttermilk and cinnamon, and fold through until smooth. (Here I added mashed banana – Donna doesn’t, but I wanted my bread to be extra banana-y – and I had multiple bananas to use up!)

Grease a loaf tin, or use a 12-cup muffin tray if you want the mini versions. Brush the top with butter, arrange your sliced banana so it looks aesthetically pleasing to you, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 35 mins (for the big version) or 15 mins (for the mini versions) and remove from the oven when golden and lightly springy. When I took mine out they weren’t quite as golden as I wanted (although the cake was cooked) so I stuck them under the grill for a couple of minutes… just to get that slightly burnt, caramelised sugar look!

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A golden brown, caramelised top – thanks to a minute or two under the grill!

I’m happy to say they turned out nicely. The sugary banana on top was particularly good, but the nuts and banana in the ‘bread’ were good too… I would just mention however, that calling them ‘bread’ is a little misleading – to me they were more cake-like than bready. I put a few remaining ones in the freezer, and they did go a bit soggy and weird on defrosting, so maybe this is an ‘eat when fresh’ kind of recipe.

Chocolate cheesecake brownies anyone?

I love chocolate, I love cheesecake, I love brownies… so considering that, there is a high probability that I would adore chocolate cheesecake brownies, right? But actually, I’m a bit of a brownie purist – I like chocolate brownies and that’s it, no nuts, no fruit… just good quality chocolate! To me, that’s what a brownie should be. And I like them fudgey (to the point of almost not being cooked in the middle), I really don’t like them when they get a hard, crackly crust on the top – but I digress…

I’ve had a recipe for chocolate cheesecake brownie for ages, but maybe my purist tendencies have caused me to take so long before trying to make them. But the planets aligned today and I just happened to look in my fridge and see an abundance of exactly the right ingredients – fantastic!! (It may also have been the inspiration gained after reading the fantastic sounding recipe for Cappuccino Brownies that I saw on the Amandeleine blog).

In the past I’ve had my issues with Donna Hay recipes, but I’ll give her another chance… this one is bound to work (I can feel it) plus it’s not one of those highly-technical baking recipes where everything has to be exactly right in order to work. I figure any recipe where you just throw everything in a blender at once and whizz the ingredients together can’t be all that technical.

To make Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies you will need:

Straight from the oven - ignore the unorthodox round tin...!

185gm melted butter
1/4 cup cocoa (best quality dutch process of course!)
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plain flour

For the cheesecake:
285 gm cream cheese
4 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 160 c (325 F). Place butter, cocoa, sugar, eggs and flour in a food processer and whizz till smooth. Pour into a greased 20cm slice tin or similar. To make the cheesecake, whizz the cream cheese, sugar and eggs together in a food processor. Place large spoonfuls of the cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and gently swirl with a knife to get a ‘marbled look’. Bake for around 40 mins until set. Cool in the tin then cut into slices.

The verdict:

The odd texture didn't stop me from eating it, of course...!

I probably wouldn’t bother making this again to be honest. The texture of the cheesecake part was nice and light, but with a touch of egginess (not so good) and it contrasted strangely with the heavy, greasy texture of the brownie… and the two components didn’t really stay together well – they kept separating whenever I cut a piece of the brownie. Donna Hay be damned – I was right to be a brownie purist after all!!