White Chocolate Caramel Banana Bread

Because we all know banana bread is actually cake.

Side note: I’m back!!

An apology is necessary and expected. The past few weeks have been an absolute blast, busy busy busy, what with moving to¬†London to embark on a very science-y and exciting adventure. Early lectures, lots of note-taking, and the constant fear that I’ve done nothing to deserve a place in this wonderful university. The people are amazing, the work intriguing, and nothing beats the nighttime kitchen adventures, midnight study sessions and later-night parties. Nothing I say here could ever fully justify the experiences that have been thrown at me as well as those which I have yet to encounter. It’s still incredibly surreal; like a dream come true, yet somehow better.

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A modification on one of my previous banana bread recipes, this one has a gallant twist with the incorporation of white chocolate and caramel. If ever I do this again, I’ll be sure to add in a nuttier texture or more earthy flavour component to up the ante of everything else going on in the picture. It’s the sweetest pick-me-up, and a one-bowl wonder. Don’t you love the easy stuff? Remember: I’m all about simple. Sometimes. Ok, most of the time. With college matters whirling around my head, this loaf was a nice and easy break, which took no time at all to put together and bake. Feels good to get into mixing, picking ingredients and experimenting again in the kitchen. Made it with one of the sweetest people I’ve met here, and everyone loved (and then attacked) it. Crowd-pleaser. Bananas. White chocolate. Caramel. Good play.

Now, it feels like home.

White Chocolate Caramel Banana Bread (makes 1 loaf)

Ingredients

3 ripe bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups (190g) plain white flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup (76g) melted unsalted butter

2 tbsp milk

2 heaping tbsp caramel sauce

1/3 cup (68g) white sugar

3/4 cup white chocolate chips (I cut up a good bar)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). In a large bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, milk, sugar, melted butter, egg, salt and vanilla. Then add in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, milk, caramel sauce. Finally, gently stir in the white chocolate chips. Pour into a greased loaf and bake for 50-55 minutes. This one was ready by 53 minutes.

To serve, slice up and serve with more caramel, marmalade (a touch I personally adore) and more chopped chocolate. I’m guessing whipped cream or ice cream would sort out any lonely evening, too.

Engleby

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It just can’t be possible to narrow down a myriad of wonderful things into one simple and (perhaps) comprehensive category. I usually blabber on about foodscapades and nice solitary leisure adventures at little cafes here and there, but tonight I’m looking at my dim lamp and the bordered book underneath it. My bookshelf is always there like a nostalgia-inducing grandfather, standing behind me every time I sit down at my desk, either blindly pondering something stuck in my mind or forcing myself to get down to some work, which I probably later enjoy getting lost in.

Back to the book.

It’s none other than Engleby by Sebastian Faulks, as you can see lying limply on my dark bedroom floorboards. I like that name. Engleby. I really just think of a fat mother eagle. Nothing too new and all the rage like 50 shades of whatsit parading its assets like a pretentious youngster on the front shelves of every bookstore. Not that I’ve read Shades of Grey before, though I’ve heard a good few nasty things about it. No no, not the open carnality of the story, just the manner in which everything is conveyed. I should cease to judge, but then again, what thinking man would willingly subject himself to lesser-than-awesome literary works? To experiment, yes. To nourish the soul, perhaps not.

Engleby is the young man featured in the story, and the way the whole thing ended literally made my socks shiver. The twist post-middle was dark yet becoming, wholly cruel yet frighteningly pleasurable. I enjoyed what I was reading because for once, the story did not continue like a placid diary of which initial the boom and pow dwindles to something ultimately quite expected and insignificant. If my dog dies then that’s rather devastating, however if my dog dies because he suffered heart and mental problems from excessive time travel through space, then the context shifts to capture my attention in a more enlightening perspective, albeit the obvious sadness to accompany such a passing. Back to the point.

Just look at Engleby on the front cover. Young, bright and free. Hands in the air, taking life as it hits him in every direction like the faceless wind running through spindly fields of wheat. Unbelievably bright, but suffers from slight social apathy and even an annoying tinge of separation and self-induced acceptance of a cruel, cruel world. Bullied, but still one of the brightest beings of his time. Went to Cambridge and became a journalist, only to later find out the hard way of his drastic mental problems. Read it for yourself and empathise with this man, before considering how you as a human being may have responded to his situation objectively, without any knowledge of his history beforehand. Nothing I say would make sense to you if you have not read it, but that is precisely my point. Non sequitur speech is this man’s specialty as well. Relish his stark cynicism and left of field verbal diarrhoea. Let him go on about the woman he loves before he murders her (cat out of the bag, meow).

Books like these needn’t ask for any rating. It’s there, it’s good, it must be read. A straightforwardly written piece, much unlike the ornate grandeur of classic literature which winds up and crushes a heart. This crushes too, I may assure you, though its content runs deep in a much more modern and relative fashion, giving the reader the chance to sob over some things human nature tends to overlook.