It was raining on the road back from Positano to Naples where my brother, Christian, and I were on our way to catch the boat to Capri. We stopped to pick up some fruit from one of the many roadside stalls and apart from the usual wonderful displays of colourful fruit, there were boxes full of new season chestnuts. I bought two kilos and later realised I had no room to bring them back to London. Instead we had to eat them which is when I came up with this recipe. One of my favourite gluten-free treats, this has the wonderful moist quality of banana bread, with the chestnut flour adding another dimension of flavour.
190g chestnut flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon powder
4 ripe bananas, mashed, about 350g
85g buttermilk or whole milk with a few drops of lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g so unsalted butter
225g muscovado sugar
2 free-range medium eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4, and grease and line a 24cm cake tin with baking parchment.
Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the banana with the buttermilk or whole milk with lemon drops and vanilla extract. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, this takes about 5 minutes. Still beating, gradually add a little of the beaten eggs followed by a spoonful of the dry mix. Keep alternating and adding until all the egg and dry mix has been incorporated. Use a spatula to gently fold in the banana mixture, until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 40 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before carefully removing the banana bread from the tin to cool completely. Serve immediately, or, if you have the will power, wrap in cling film where it will keep well for up to 3 days.
Extracted from Nina Capri by Nina Parker, £19.99, buy online .
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