Words by: Natasha Bloomfield
Banana bread has recently taken Perth by storm. After spending a week preoccupied with hunting down the best banana bread in town, I’m beginning to understand the hype.
Bananas are now the most popular fruit in the world; unsurprising as they are both convenient and nutritious. Given that we mow through so many each year some are bound to become overripe, and what better way to use them than for banana bread?
The popular characteristics of bananas have been readily transferred to banana bread itself; the fact that it also contains some variation of flour, sugar, oil, butter, milk, and eggs is far beyond the point. Besides, these ingredients are used to add a delicious mixture of texture, richness, and flavour anyway.
Banana bread’s cooking procedure also fires up some debate. Should the banana be pureed or mashed? Should the banana shine on its own or be complemented by other flavours? However you like to make it, by my reckoning, they are all delicious.
The argument that banana bread is ‘nutritious’ stems not only from the fact that banana is an ingredient, but also from its classification as ‘bread’. Banana bread is generally described as a loaf-shaped cake, yet there are a number of differences between banana cake and banana bread. The main ones are that the bread is less sweet, has a tougher texture, and is denser and heavier.
If anything, this title is certainly a successful marketing ploy which adds to banana bread’s assumed healthiness, and legitimises its consumption at any hour of the day. Having personally eaten banana bread at any time from 8am to 8pm, I can honestly say that it is an all-day food appropriate for breakfast or dessert, and all the meals in between. It masquerades under the veil of healthiness, with an admirable aim of just making you feel happy.
The serves are rated on a scale in comparison to each other, one being the smallest.
Tucked away on Carr Place in Leederville, Sayers has a friendly atmosphere, quick service, and a quality menu worth waking up early for. The infamous chocolate and banana bread comes thickly sliced with a dusting of icing sugar and a generous portion of melted butter and maple syrup. (Just as a side-note, the coffee also comes with free cake samples.) The banana bread is bursting with banana and chocolate, and the butter and maple syrup add a richness to the already exquisite taste. Sayers’ banana bread is delicious, and a fantastic introduction to banana bread.
Chocolate and banana bread, maple syrup, and butter, $8.00. Size four.
Max Brenner Chocolate Bar
The chocolatier giant has recently set up shop at Lakeside Joondalup, and given how busy they are I’d say they are set to stay. The banana bread is served with a pot of melted milk chocolate, and it is this smooth chocolate that is the hero in this duo. When drizzled on it overpowers the banana bread, which itself has only a very mild banana taste and is quite dry without a great deal of texture or flavour; I foresee Max Brenner not being a huge competitor to local bakeries any time soon. On the positive side, there is enough left-over chocolate to have fondue for dessert.
Warmed banana bread, served with a pot of melted milk chocolate, $5.90. Size five.
Sherbet Cafe & Bake Shop
Sherbet Cafe & Bake Shop in Maylands is conveniently located near the train station, and the little cafe is so popular that at times there is a line out the door. Of the banana bread I tried, Sherbet’s is the densest, with a moist and gooey consistency and visible chunks of chocolate and banana which add a rich and strong flavour. In terms of thickness it is on par with Sayers, and the texture is closer to that of bread than cake. It is delicious, and worth the price.
Chocolate banana bread, $5.00. Size three.
Sugar and Nice
Sugar and Nice is about two kilometres north of Sherbet, and of the cafes I visited, it is my favourite. The space is inviting and friendly with comfy chairs, beautiful décor and handmade goods for sale. The banana bread’s texture is fluffy and light with a tasty mixture of banana and cinnamon. The exterior is chewy with a decent amount of pumpkin seeds which add a nice crunch and an extra health kick. The banana bread is an inviting colour and flavour, and whilst being a smaller portion, is first on my list of deliciousness.
Banana bread, $4.50. Size two.
Polly Coffee Bar
Located in the heart of the Cultural Centre in Northbridge, Polly is a small cafe outside PICA. You can grab the banana bread toasted or fresh, or have a combination of the two. With the toasted version, the butter is perfectly spread, and the toasting, which turns the bread golden brown, is so even it’s a work of art. Polly’s banana bread is more your classic banana bread in terms of a cake-like consistency and a relatively uniform appearance. But the banana flavour and smell is strong, and I would consider the price reasonable for the product.
Banana bread, $3.50. Size one.