I positively will everyone in the house not to eat the bananas so that they overripen and I have an excuse to make this. I love all the variants of banana bread I have ever made - much more than I do bananas - but this one is on another level. The smoky bitterness that emanates from both the cardamom and cacao nibs offers a subtle foil to the natural and rich sweetness of the bananas. As this is for breakfast, it isn't terribly sweet, so feel free to up the sugar to 2 1/4 cups if you have a sweet tooth and want to indulge it. It is also excellent (and tastes sweeter) when toasted and spread with unsalted butter.
2 very ripe or overripe bananas (approx. 3/4 cup mashed)
2 extra large eggs
3/4 cup plain (runny) yogurt or buttermilk
1/2 cup light and mild olive oil
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cardamom, or seeds from 1 tablespoon cardamom pods, ground
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1 x 2-pound loaf pan approx. 9 x 6 1/2 x 3 inches
Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and put a paper liner into your loaf pan (or line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides with a little vegetable oil).
I do the whole thing using a freestanding mixer, but a bowl and an electric whisk, or a wooden spoon and plenty of elbow grease would be fine. Mash the bananas (and if you're not using a freestanding mixer, use a fork and a smallish bowl first, otherwise the flat paddle of a freestanding mixer will do) and beat in 1 egg at a time, followed by the yogurt or buttermilk, then the oil, and beat it all together. I measure the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cardamom into a bowl, and whisk together, while this is going on.
Slow the speed down while you add the dry ingredients, gradually, beating all the while, and then turn the speed slightly higher again, and beat for 1 minute until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. You may have to scrape the bowl down and give a short final beat if you notice any flour sticking to the edges of the bowl. Then, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the cacao nibs by hand and transfer the mixture to your prepared pan and thence to the oven for 1 hour (it is wise to start checking at 45 minutes) or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Sit the loaf pan on a wire rack and leave the banana bread in the pan until cold. Slip it out, in its paper liner (or parchment paper), and wrap with more parchment and then aluminum foil and keep for a day - if you can - before eating.
Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week.
Can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap cake in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil. To thaw, unwrap and put on a wire rack at room temperature for about 5 hours. Or wrap individual slices in plastic wrap and put into a resealable bag, and thaw by toasting on a low heat.
Recipes reprinted from Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food. Copyright ©2015 by Nigella Lawson. Photographs by David Loftus. Published by Flatiron Books.