This banana bread is on sale at the Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland. I’ve been cooking from Myrtle and Darina Allen’s cookery books for years, but after finally visiting Ballymaloe House and the Ballymaloe Cookery School in April of 2012, it is now one of my favorite places. If you don’t plan to be in Shanagarry any time soon, you can make the banana bread at home by following this recipe, which is found in The Ballymaloe Bread Book, compiled by Tim Allen, Myrtle’s son and Darina’s husband.
NOTES: First, I have made this with glace cherries, the type you would put in fruitcake–just be sure to wash off the sugar coating first; have also made it with fresh pitted cherries, as well as dried cherries. I prefer dried cherries as they mix in well with the sultanas, but if you want a full cherry taste, go with the fresh or glace cherries; second, since it’s hard to find sultanas in the US, use California golden seedless raisins; third, be sure to keep the oven door closed as noted below because the banana bread WILL fall if you open the oven door during the first hour or so. I speak from experience. However, it has never fallen when I have opened the oven after the first hour. Last, Since my oven runs a little on the hot side, I bake at 325 degrees Farenheit, to avoid burning on the bottom or sides. You can also bake this in smaller loaf pans, but it still needs to cook for at least an hour at around 325 degrees.
8 oz. self rising flour
1/2 level teaspoon salt
4 oz butter
6 oz castor sugar (regular granulated sugar)
4 oz sultanas or seedless raisins
1 oz chopped walnuts
4 oz cherries, washed and halved
2 medium eggs, preferably free range
1 lb very ripe bananas, weighed without skins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour and salt. Rub in butter until mixture is crumbly, add sugar and mix again. Stir in raisins, walnuts and cherries. Mash bananas with a fork, add the eggs and mix this well into the other ingredients. Dough will have a soft consistency. Pour into a loaf tin which has been lined with greaseproof parchment or silicone paper and spread evenly. Place in the center of the oven and bake for one and a half hours. It is VITAL that the oven door is not opened during cooking or the banana bread will collapse.
Cool before removing from the tin. Served in thick slices with soft butter, it’s an ideal accompaniment to an afternoon cup of tea.
Mine is coming out of the oven in about half an hour!
PS This photo was taken standing in the front drive at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, County Cork, looking south/southwest.