Originally written as part of the World Cup 2014 cooking project.
I have been looking forward to writing the football part for Cameroon as they form part of some wonderful memories of Italia 90, where Les Lions Indomptables (The indomitable Lions) showed strength, speed and wonderful skill in lighting up the tournament. Their run came to an end with a brilliant quarter final against England, but I can’t mention Cameroon without mentioning the star of the show back then; the one and only Roger Milla. Officially he was 38 years old, unofficially he was older, but regardless he was an inspiration to the team and all that watched; and who could forget the Milla wiggle by the corner flag after he had scored. I also love the vibrant colour that the Cameroon strip brings to the football – red, green and yellow.
This time round Cameroon remains an unknown quantity. There qualifying was uninspiring but with an excellent pedigree they cannot be ruled out. Samuel Eto’o is their key player, but a successful run may have to depend on the resolute defence of another star Nicolas N’Koulou.
Some of the excitement of doing this project is to discover food and cooking methods from countries that I have never before studied; the countries of Africa are a great example. Cameroon was an eye opener and none so more than when I discovered, to my real surprise, that banana bread was a regional speciality. I looked further in to what produce Cameroon grows and found out that bananas and plantains are high on the list, so the banana bread conundrum was no longer a mystery. However, it is banana bread with a twist; roasted peanuts and dried prunes add great flavour and texture to the bread. I made this one with rice flour and corn meal flour which gives it an immensely pleasurable fine grainy texture. Served warm with chilled butter I am sure that even a defeat for your favourite team wouldn’t remove the smile of culinary pleasure.
Banana Bread - CameroonPrint
- ■ 50g unsalted peanuts |
- ■ 100g unsalted butter | Cubed and at room temperature.
- ■ 90g caster sugar |
- ■ 2 large eggs |
- ■ 10g grapeseed oil |
- ■ 3 ripe bananas | Nice and brown.
- ■ 175g fine rice flour |
- ■ 50g corn meal flour |
- ■ 1 tsp. baking powder |
- ■ 1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda |
- ■ pinch sea salt |
- ■ 75g dried prunes | Roughly chopped.
Preheat an oven to 180°C (360°F).
Put the peanuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 5-6 minutes. They are done when they become fragrant, have an oily sheen and a little more colour than when they first went in. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on.
Either manually or using a food mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then drizzle in the grapeseed oil whilst still mixing. Continue to mix for a further 2 minutes until consistent.
Mash the ripened bananas – I find squeezing them through the hands a little therapeutic and highly effective – and add to the mix. Add the flours, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix well. Finally, add the roasted peanuts and prunes and mix until evenly distributed.
Line the base of a loaf tin with baking parchment and grease the sides with butter. Add the banana bread mix to the tin and bake in the oven at 180°C for 1 hour. The top should be nice and brown. If you don’t think it’s done then cook for up to another 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a couple of minutes. Turn it out on to a cooling rack, remove the baking parchment and if you’re up for it lop off a slice and eat it hot with chilled butter. When the rest of the banana bread has cooled store it in an airtight container for up to a few days.