If anyone has been to Apte in Alphington they will know about their heavenly Banana & Coconut bread. I ate there quite a while ago when pregnant & was dying to try the famous dish, though on the day they were serving it with rhubarb which I had in my mind for some reason or another you are supposed to avoid when pregnant so had to give it a miss. Instead I had the ricotta hotcakes which were impressive themselves. Anyway I digress, the recipe for the banana bread ensemble appeared in a magazine at about the same time we visited, I'm pretty sure it was delicious so I kept a hold of it & finally made it last week. I served mine with tinned blood plums rather than roasted fruit & it was perfect, it reminds me very much of my all time favourite Syrian style French toast, orange blossom syrup, honey labne, stewed rhubarb & pistachiosfrom Gingerlee in Brunswick. I love the banana bread which was really easy & to serve I just popped a slice in the toaster as needed & topped with all the extras, though next time I might even be tempted to try & make a french toast version with the labne, plums & pistachios & see how close to Gingerlee's I can get it too, it's not so easy to get out for brekky these days with 2 littlies underfoot so if I can replicate a recipe at home, even better.
Banana & Coconut Bread with Honeyed Labne
You will need to begin the labne a day in advance or try buying some from Middle Eastern food shops
2 cups (300g) self raising flour
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups (135g) shredded coconut
400ml can coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 small bananas, sliced
Roasted fruit (such as rhubarb or blood plums) & chopped unsalted pistachio kernels, to serve
1kg Natural yoghurt ( I only made about 250g worth & it lasted the whole loaf so I guess it depends on how much dollop you like on your bread)
1/2 cup (175g) honey (as above I only added about 1 tablespoon)
For the labne, line a mesh strainer with a piece of muslin or a clean chux cloth & set over a large bowl. Place the yoghurt in the strainer, then gather the cloth up & secure with string or a rubber band. Place in the fridge & allow to drain for at least 12 hours or overnight until thickened & creamy. Remove from cloth & discard the liquid in the bowl. Whisk in the honey until smooth, chill until needed.
Preheat oven to 160c. Grease & line a 10cm x 30cm loaf pan. Combine flour, sugar & coconut in a bowl. Place the coconut milk, eggs & vanilla extract in a separate bowl & whisk to combine. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture & stir until just combined. Fold in sliced banana, then pour into prepared tin, Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in th epan, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Slice banana bread and serve plain or lightly toasted with the labne, fruit & pistachios. The bread will keeep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat or toast before serving.