If you love banana bread and coffee as much as I do, you will love Nigella’s Italian Breakfast Banana Bread. It’s from her wonderful book Nigellissima. I’ve been making this recipe for a long time – ever since I first bought the book in fact!
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Although my favourite of Nigella cookbooks is still ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’, both for its writing style and its recipes, ‘Nigellissima’, Nigella’s take on Italian cooking, definitely has a place of honour on my bookshelf.
Nigellissima is full of wonderful recipes from snacks and starters to easy and satisfying main courses. The Saffron Orzotto is a gorgeous side that makes barley something really special and the Fettuccini with Mushrooms, Marsala and Mascarpone is just amazing. Of course there are plenty of desserts too, including a Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake that is nothing short of divine. There’s also an Amaretto Semifreddo that has become one of my favourite make-ahead desserts.
Nigella’s Italian Breakfast Banana Bread is definitely in my top ten favourite recipes from this book. As Nigella points out, Banana Bread really isn’t Italian at all, but as she says, “I don’t claim these recipes are authentically Italian, but authentic they are nonetheless.” They are definitely authentically delicious!
Looking for more recipes to use up over-ripe bananas?
Not Just Another Banana Bread Recipe
I have several of my own tried and tested banana bread recipes that I have been making for years, but Nigella’s espresso-spiked version is irresistible. It takes less than ten minutes to throw together.
The only ingredient you might not have is the instant espresso powder but it’s well worth buying. (Ordinary instant coffee just isn’t the same.) It gave the banana bread an amazingly heady scent while it was baking and really added to the flavour. Plus you can make yourself a quick cup of espresso while you are baking! I’ve also found an espresso powder flavouring that would work too, but I’d use less than the 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder Nigella calls for, perhaps just 1 to 1½.
Nigella recommends serving this with mascarpone or chocolate spread – ideas I can’t possibly discourage. I also like it spread with butter, but frankly, most of the time, I eat it plain. It’s addictively delicious.
Nigella’s Italian Breakfast Banana Bread really does improve with age, just as Nigella says in her book. You can never have too many recipes for banana bread, and I urge you to add this one to your repertoire.
You can also find the recipe in Nigellissima, a book you will be happy to have on your bookshelf, no matter how big your cookbook collection!
Italian Breakfast Banana Bread – Printable Recipe
- ⅔ cup (150 ml) flavourless vegetable oil plus some for greasing (I used mild olive oil)
- 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ⅔ cup (150 grams) granulated or caster sugar
- 1⅓ cups (175 grams) plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (or 1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder flavouring)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (about 165°C).
- Grease a one pound loaf tin.
- Mix the vanilla and salt into the mashed bananas.
- Beat in the oil.
- Now beat in the lightly beaten eggs and sugar.
- Mix the flour, baking soda and espresso powder together and beat them into the batter.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until slightly coming away from the sides of the tin. A skewer inserted in the cake should come out virtually clean.
- Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
- This bread tastes even better if allowed to 'rest' overnight in a covered container. It really does improve with age.