The advantage of honey is that it does not spoil so we can keep it for as long as we want. I love honey but this is clearly a lot to go through. So, as well as gifting some to my grandfather in France (he loves honey very much), I decided to use it in recipes: dressings for salads, marinades, desserts, etc.
It occurred to me that I often crave one of my favourite childhood after-school goûter (snack): a nice slice of pain d'épices (gingerbread loaf) toasted with a bit of butter or hazelnut chocolate spread. So my best solution to this? Make it, make lots of it!
The other pain d'épices I really loved was the one made by the cheese monger Beillevaire at the market. And I am so glad that they have not stopped making it so whenever I visit my hometown market I treat myself to a slice. Theirs is very rich with honey, denser and stickier. It is also flavoured with banana (if I am not mistaken because it is so obvious it is in there).
For my recipe, I wanted a balance between my two favourite types of gingerbread loaf, fluffy and light like the first one but with the banana flavour of the second. My first try was very dense and sticky. Sticky is delicious for a nice gingerbread (it gets stickier by the day when you keep it for a few days) but not that much that you get little pieces of cake stuck to your fingers. I made a few changes, added a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda et voilà!
The result is this delicious loaf of banana gingerbread. It is wonderfully flavoured, fluffy and moist as it should be!
And as a plus, your home will smell nicely of spices and honey for a few days after baking it.
I'm off for a little goûter de pain d'épices! If you would like to give it a try, the recipe is below.
50g demerara sugar
1 ripe banana (mashed)
250g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground star anise
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
50g melted unsalted butter (plus 5g of cold unsalted butter for greasing)
200g honey (heated)
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and flour (with the 5g cold butter and extra flour for dusting) a loaf tin. Alternatively you can grease the tin and line it with greaseproof baking paper.
2. Sieve the plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large bowl.
3. In another large baking bowl, add the sugar and egg and beat well together with a whisk. Stir in the mashed banana, then the milk and melted butter.
4. Fold in the flour and spices mix with a wooden spoon by adding it a bit at a time. Pour in the heated honey and mix well until you get a smooth, thick batter. If you are worried about flour lumps, you can strain the batter into another bowl.
5. Pour the batter into the greased and floured (or lined) loaf tin and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 40 minutes (I use a conventional electric oven so temperature and time may vary with a fan oven) until the loaf is golden and cooked through (you can check by inserting a skewer or thin knife blade, it should come out clean).
6. Let the loaf cool down for 5/10 minutes in its tin and then carefully turn it onto a wire rack and let it finish cooling down. To store it, wrap it with aluminum foil and put in an airtight container, it will keep for a week.
I serve the banana gingerbread loaf cold and cut in slices. It can be delicious for breakfast or with an afternoon cup of tea when served toasted and buttered lightly or with a bit of hazelnut chocolate spread (like I often do).
Note: the quality of the honey you choose for this recipe can really make a difference in the flavour, especially with a delicious floral honey.