“Banana Buttermilk Bread” from “The Violet Bakery Cookbook”

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Banana bread is one of those foods that never thrills me. I’ll eat it, sure, but I would never choose it enthusiastically.

I think my main problem with it is that its main ingredient is the black, nearly not edible, bananas that are lurking around in your fruit bowl. Frankly, banana bread is the Last Chance Cafe for old bananas, which hardly is a strong selling point.

But alas, we did have some old bananas kicking around in our kitchen. I didn’t want to throw them away if could give them a second chance at stardom, so this is how I ended up baking banana bread on a cold Saturday morning.

This variation on banana bread does two things differently from your standard recipe. The first is you take one of your bananas, cut it lengthwise, and then put the banana half on top of the bread to give it a more interesting appearance. Alas, I didn’t do this because I only had five very ripe bananas and I wanted to use all available bananas in the bread itself. But I will try this if I decide to make this again.

The other top tip was to put three tablespoons (that is not a misprint) of caster sugar on top of the bread once you pour the batter into the tin. Three tablespoons is a lot; I found that it had completely covered, and then some, the top. I almost stopped at one, but I thought the step was in there for a reason, so I did it all. I’m glad I did. What ends up happening is the massive amounts of sugar put a nice crust on the top of the bread, which gives a nice crunch to otherwise very moist cake.

Was it good? Sure. It still didn’t convert me to the Joys of Banana bread, but everybody liked it. Most importantly, it made a very cold, grey, cheerless Saturday morning better, and that’s saying something.

If you’d like to make this yourself, Yahoo had this recipe as its Cake of the Day in October 2015. Click through this paragraph to read it.

“Banana Buttermilk Bread” from “The Violet Bakery Cookbook”

“Italian Breakfast Banana Bread” and “Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake” from “Nigellissma”

If you’d like to make the cheesecake– and I recommend you do– click on this sentence to find the recipe.

If you’d like to make the banana bread, and it is an excellent use of brown bananas– click on this sentence to find the recipe.

First things first. You should know that since the beginning of the month, I’ve made both of these treats twice. That’s how good they are.

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with banana bread. I find that the only way I can force myself to eat it is if there is chocolate and/or nuts in there somewhere. I keep on making it, though, because I hate to waste food and I know the black bananas in the fruit bowl that are mocking me can be used in a banana bread. So I persevered.

But now I think I’ve found the perfect banana bread recipe (with one alteration on my part). Nigella very cleverly has you add a few teaspoons of instant espresso to the mix. Not only does this mask the banana flavour, it also makes it more sophisticated version of this breakfast treat.

The one alteration on my part was to add 100 grams of chocolate chips to the mix. This addition works great with the espresso flavour and also manages to mask the banana flavour even more. Frankly, there’s nothing better than biting into an unexpected chip of chocolate, is there?

This cheesecake is a wonder. As this is the non-baked variety, all you need to engage in is a little forward planning in order to have a delicious dessert. Both times I made this I was short on time, so I slotted in assembly of the ingredients the day before I needed the cake, and BANG, I was done 10 minutes later. I’m sure Nigella would agree that this is not cooking, but assembly, and we were all the richer for it.

The cheesecake isn’t going to work for anyone who doesn’t like Nutella, chocolate or hazelnuts, since that’s pretty much the extent of the ingredients. It is also very rich. There’s probably about a million calories in every slice, so you should slice small ones.

Will I make these treats again? You bet. Anytime I have some black bananas mocking me, they will find a new lease on life in this banana bread. The cheesecake isn’t going to win any awards on the “Great British Bake Off”, but it’s good and people love it.

Win. Win.

“Italian Breakfast Banana Bread” and “Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake” from “Nigellissma”