Regular readers will be forgiven for thinking I have a fixation with banana bread. But the truth is, I make it quite often and rarely bake other cakes or sweet breads. Thus it’s nice to ring the changes a bit, not just make a traditional banana bread with sultanas and walnuts (click here), but variations cooked as ‘muffins’ (click here), or with chocolate pieces (click here), and now this Italian take on something I’ve always considered very English, although it actually originated in America in the 1930s. I found it in Gino D’Acampo’s A Taste of the Sun, in which I also found the Baci di Dama recipe I recently posted. What attracted my attention was Gino using pears and pistachios in the mix rather than the traditional sultanas and walnuts. Now, the reason I’ve taken to making banana bread quite a bit again (again because it’s been about 20 years since I last regularly made it for my son and daughter when they were little), is that grandson Freddie adores it. I’ve even ‘taught’ him how to make banana muffins (click here) at the tender age of two and a half! He also adores pears. He just loves pears. So making some banana bread that also contained pears seemed a perfect sweet treat to share with him.
Banana, Pear & Pistachio Bread
- 140g butter, soft
- 140g light muscovado sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 ripe large bananas, mashed
- 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm cubes
- 100g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or extract)
- 250g ’00’ flour or strong white flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
First of all put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until soft and fluffy. Now add the beaten eggs in 2 or 3 stages, adding just a little of the flour with each addition to prevent the mixture curdling. Whisk well.
Now add the mashed banana, then the chopped pear. Stir gently – don’t continue using the whisk.
Stir in the pistachio nuts and the vanilla paste.
Sift in the flour and baking powder. I used ’00’ flour (used for pasta and Italian breads because I had lots left over from the Baci di Dama baking) but otherwise use strong plain flour (bread flour). Fold it in lightly and carefully.
Transfer to a 1lb loaf tin, the base lined with baking parchment or greaseproof paper; grease the sides.
Put in a 180C/160 Fan/Gas 4 preheated oven for about 50-55 minutes, or until nicely browned on top and a sharp knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Carefully turn out the loaf onto a wire rack to cool.
It smelled so wonderful I barely managed to let it properly cool before I cut a slice to eat as a dessert after supper with an espresso. Normally I’d eat banana bread in the afternoon with a cup of tea but I was going Gino’s Italian route and having it with coffee!
It was really delicious and I loved the ‘fresh’ pear chunks and the sweet pistachios rather than the usual walnuts. It made a brilliant change. I know from years of baking banana bread that it actually tastes better the next day but there’s plenty to share with the family tomorrow, when there’s to be a bit of a get-together. We’re going out to lunch but this will be a good teatime treat to come home to.