My grandparents have reached an age where material gifts aren't much good to them. They get the most enjoyment out of food, so I try to oblige whenever a gift-giving event rolls along. Last Christmas, they got a beef & bacon pie and a trip to McDonalds for breakfast; for their birthdays, they received an apple pie and a plate of banana cupcakes stuffed with chocolate ganache and topped with cream cheese icing.
This Christmas, I'm repeating the breakfast gift--they enjoy trips to fast food restaurants--and baking a loaf cake for each of them. Grandma's all set to receive a chocolate loaf, since she's big on that sort of thing, while Grandpa's getting a little something I like to call banana macroon loaf.
Officially, this loaf (from NIGELLA KITCHEN, which is my go-to cookbook of the moment) is called coconut and cherry banana bread, but that doesn't quite sum up the delicious nubbliness of this cake. The coconut informs every bite, transforming the texture into something thick, rich, and chewy. Even though the recipe uses whole eggs rather than egg whites alone, anyone who's ever eaten a macaroon will be hard pressed to miss the similarity between this loaf and those delectable domes.
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
roughly 1 pound of very ripe bananas, weighed before you peel them
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup dried cranberries (or dried cherries, if you can get 'em cheap)
1 1/3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, plus extra for sprinkling
Preheat your oven to 325F or 162C.
Melt the butter and let it cool slightly while you peel and mash the bananas.
Combine the sugar and melted butter in a large bowl and beat until they're well mixed, then beat in the bananas and eggs.
Fold in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Once the mixture is well combined, stir in the coconut and cranberries/cherries.
Pour the batter into a 9"x5" loaf pan that's either nonstick, greased, or equipped with a paper liner. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of coconut on top, making sure to achieve even coverage.
Bake the loaf for 45 minutes to an hour. It's done as soon as it comes away from the sides and the top is bouncy but not jiggly.
Cool it in the pan for ten minutes, then carefully turn it out onto a wire rack and leave it to cool completely. If you want to cheat and eat a slice while it's still warm, I won't tell anyone.