Toasted banana bread with vanilla cream cheese, rhubarb & raspberries

banner

Here’s another weekend favourite – one of the prettiest brunch dishes. When young, Barbie-pink rhubarb is in season, we roast it in the oven with just a shake of sugar so that it keeps its colour and shape. The sharpness of this topping goes brilliantly with the warm and spicy banana bread, which is another of our guilty pleasures.

Ingredients

  • 125 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 325 g golden caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • generous pinch of ground allspice
  • 120 ml buttermilk
  • 1 punnet raspberries
  • 75 g clear honey

For the rhubarb

  • 2 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 300 g pink forced rhubarb, cut into 7.5cm lengths

For the vanilla cream cheese

  • 200 g cream cheese
  • 75 g plain yogurt
  • tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Grease a 900 g loaf tin and base-line with nonstick baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in about a quarter of the eggs at a time.

In another bowl, mash the bananas with a fork and stir in the vanilla extract. Mix into the creamed butter, then fold in all the remaining dry ingredients. Finally, stir in the buttermilk until you have a smooth batter.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, using a flexible spatula to get every last bit from the bowl, and bake on the middle shelf for 30–40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven and leave to cool in the tin, but leave the oven on.

Now prepare the rhubarb. Put the vanilla sugar into a baking dish, toss the rhubarb in it and bake for 15 minutes, until just tender. Allow to cool.

Preheat the grill on a medium setting.

Meanwhile, make the vanilla cream cheese by beating the cream cheese, yogurt and vanilla bean paste together until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and beat again.

Toast 4 thick slices of the banana bread under the grill on both sides. Watch them carefully because they can quickly blacken around the edges.

To serve, top each slice with a dollop of vanilla cream cheese, 3–4 rhubarb pieces and a scattering of raspberries. Finish with a drizzle of honey and serve.