Something I never imagined possible happened a couple of days ago: I met Nigella Lawson! :) No, I wasn’t dreaming – she actually came to Brazil to promote her book "Nigella Kitchen" and I went to the book signing held in Sao Paulo. I had to stand in line for four hours – my legs hurt like hell up to this moment – but it was all worth it: the woman is a goddess. Beautiful beyond words, she greeted me with a kind smile and we talked for a couple of minutes before she signed my book – I was so smitten that I told her she was wonderful twice. :)
While leaving the bookshop I told my sister (who was with me the whole time, even though she did not quite know who Nigella was) that I felt really inspired to cook and bake after meeting Nigella. She told me that I should make one of Nigella’s recipes, and I did: a moist, perfumed banana loaf that lighten up my kitchen the same way Ms. Lawson lightened up my Friday. <3
Coconut and cherry banana bread
from the beautiful, always delicious and now autographed Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home
125g soft unsalted butter
4 small-medium bananas (450g/1 pound unpeeled), mashed
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (160g) plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2/3 cup dried cherries – mine were really big, so I coarsely chopped them
1 1/3 cups (133g) desiccated coconut – I used sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F*. Lightly butter a 900g (2lb) loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper as well – I used a 21x11xcm (8½x4½in) loaf pan.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and take it off the heat. Cool. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat the sugar into the cooled, melted butter, then beat in the mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture. Finally, add the dried cherries and coconut. Fold well so that everything is incorporated, then pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for about 50 minutes, but start checking after 45 – a skewer inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove it from the pan and cool completely over a wire rack.
* out of distraction I ended up baking my bread at 180°C/350°F