So – Part Two of the banana bread weekend! I still have some frozen blackcurrants in the freezer, given to me by a friend who grew them in her allotment last year. There’s not many left to be honest because I love blackcurrants. Even the smell is delicious. I did make a blackcurrant cake not so long ago, so apologies if some of this post seems a bit familiar.
Banana bread is a bit of a blank canvas really, because the basic taste is quite bland. There are plenty of ‘classic’ recipes for chocolate or spiced or nut banana breads. Nigella Lawson has one that involves rum soaked raisins which is pretty good!
But blackcurrant versions are harder to find. Perhaps this is because in the USA, where banana bread is said to have originated in the 1930’s, blackcurrants are not well known. In 1911 they were banned, along with all currant species, due to a pest on currant bushes that affected economically important white pine plantations. It wasn’t until 1966 that states were allowed to decide whether or not to allow them back, and by that time they had disappeared from people’s consciousness. In Europe however currants were economically more significant than white pine, so they remained a widespread commercial crop. Blackcurrants were important for the UK during WW2, as a source of vitamin C. The juice is made into a drink – best known here in the UK as Ribena (ribes is the Latin name for currants). In 2010 90% of the UK blackcurrant crop went to the Ribena factory!
Anyway, the recipe I used for this version came from no less than the International Blackcurrant Association . It was similar to many banana bread recipes, although it only had one egg, and the actual recipe had no raising agent. I did add a scant teaspoon of bicarb/ baking soda. I split the recipe between two tins as before, but these loaves were quite a bit flatter than the spiced version. Less mixture? Less raising agents? I don’t think it really matters if they’re are bit flatter, you can just cut thicker slices!
The taste was amazing – moist and creamy sweet cake studded with sharp and aromatic blackcurrants. Definitely a winner. You could use fresh or frozen blackcurrants. Frozen raspberries would also work, or blackberries.. any berry would work, although the blackcurrants do have a a sharpness that contrasts well with the sweetness of the bananas. A scoop of vanilla ice cream would go well too!
I’ve been looking through my previous posts and there are quite a few banana bread related ones! I’m sure there will be many more as it really is a versatile recipe and there always seem to be some bananas slowly going black somewhere.