Use up Your Old Bananas to Make a Delicious Cake

Even if you’re very efficient with the fresh produce you buy to feed your family, sometimes you’re going to find that you have bits and bobs left over each week. This can be very frustrating, especially if you are sticking to a budget for your shopping, as it feels wasteful to throw things away.

One of the things that most often gets ‘wasted’ in our house is fruit. My children are both very keen on fruit of all kinds so we buy a reasonable amount of it, but it only takes a slight change of plans - a last minute play date or a tummy bug, for example - for us suddenly to find we have a surplus of something. For some reason, it always seems to be that we end up with extra bananas, so we’ve found a recipe that makes use of them very effectively and produces delicious results into the bargain!

Banana Bread

This recipe is courtesy of Nigella Lawson and can be found in full here. I have to admit that we do make the more chocolate-y version of the cake as well (mentioned in the recipe’s introduction) and I found that it was a great way to use up odds and ends of old Easter eggs a few months ago.



  • 100 grams sultanas
  • 75 ml dark rum (or bourbon)
  • 175 grams plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 125 grams unsalted butter (melted)
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small very ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 60 grams chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

We just miss out the rum as it’s not something we have lying around the house and it would defeat the purpose if we went out and purchased expensive ingredients especially for this cake.

"Cooking helps with maths as well!"

Also, as I always make this cake with the boys (who are both pre-schoolers) I’m not really sure I’d feel comfortable using alcohol, though that’s purely a personal choice. We also don’t include the walnuts, but again that’s because we don’t keep them in our house.

Otherwise, this cake is made using pretty much solely the store cupboard essentials you might have lying around if you do any sort of baking at home. I will openly confess to not being the world’s best baker, but even I manage to pull this recipe off every time.

"Cooking is great for co-operation"

I’ve found that baking is something lovely to do with my children and it’s a great family experience. There’s so much to learn in terms of measuring, weighing and cooking techniques but it’s such fun that no-one would realise you were doing maths, science and so on at the the same time! This is a really easy recipe to follow with children as they can do most, if not all, of it (depending on their ages) themselves, which allows you to hold a merely supervisory role.

Filling the loaf tin
"A cooking tasks that needs concentration and a steady hand (but it's worth it when you get to lick the spoon afterwards)"

Method (adapted from Nigella’s wonderful plan):

  • If you are cooking the sultanas in the rum, put them and the rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to the boil
  • Remove from the heat, cover and leave for an hour if you can, or until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain
  • Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3 and get started on the rest
  • Put the flour (and cocoa powder if you’re making the chocolate version), baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well
  • In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas
  • Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract. This is the point to add the chocolate chips if you’re making the chocolate version
  • Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit
  • Scrape into a loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7cm) and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1¼ hours
  • When it's ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer

Even if you have to buy some of these ingredients from new this time, you will only need to use very small amounts each time you bake, so they will last you months, if not years. This works out as a very cost-effective way to have fun with your family and we are looking for something to fill a rainy afternoon we often turn to our cookbooks to while away an entertaining hour or two.