Banana Bread (and babies)


To the unborn Wriggler

I’m writing this from the other side of an ocean on a pretty grey and cold day in London. Your night is my morning. I should really be working, but this song  just came onto my itunes and it made me think about you.

Before you arrive, I thought I should let you know how excited we are to meet you. I know already are going to be very magical -you’re going to be funny like your mummy, a terrific dancer and probably have very long legs. You’ll hopefully be musical like your dad, as well as having his excellent hand/ eye coordination. And they’re both pretty smart, so I think you’re going to be ok there too.

I understand that you might have inherited his sense of direction and a smidge of her anxiety about things changing. But don’t worry. Nobody minds that you’re a couple of days late to the party.  Everything is going to be ok. There are lots of people to show you the way once you’re here and plenty more who will hold your hand and tell you everything is going to be fine.

There’s lots you’re going to like on this side. There are beaches, banana bread, music and West Wing to watch. Later on there will be cake bowls to lick, books to read,  surfing and sandcastles to build.

So come on out soon and come out safe.  And do try to be kind to your mummy on the way. She’s a great one.

We love you both.


one of your honourary aunts.

I’m pretty pleased to report that 22 hours after I wrote that letter one of my oldest friends gave birth to a beautiful baby girl;  Audrey. Of course I cried, both when I got the message and a few minutes later when she called long distance from her hospital bed. I cried big fat, joy -tinged-with -what-am-I-doing-on-the-other-side-of-the-world-tears.

If I was in Sydney, the first thing I would do to stop myself tearing straight into that hospital is pull manky bananas and frozen berries out of the freezer and bake a banana bread. It’s become my welcome to the world loaf, honed on sisters, friends and family of all sorts. Here are some winning things about this loaf. It’s virtually indestructible.  It’s flexible enough to be breakfast, snack with a cup of tea when you have unexpected visitors, and I’ve been told it’s quite good to scoff with one hand while breastfeeding at 3 am.

For those who get inundated with piles of  baked goods in the first week, before the pastel tinged novelty peters off, know that it  freezes well. Cut into individual portions and put into little lunch bags, it only takes a minute or so to be retrieved and rescued in a toasted sandwich press. Add some butter or ricotta and any freezer blight is instantly forgotten.

There are scads of banana bread recipes gadding about on the internet (there’s even a multitasking one muddled with coffee in a great book that’s coming out next year).

But this is my go to for babies . Because it’s a time for celebrating with sweet carbohydrates. And because it’s just a process of squish, melt  and stir- which is exactly all your emotions are capable of when there’s the excitement of a new arrival to contemplate.

Newborn Banana Bread

(Makes one loaf)


1 mixing bowl. 1 loaf tin


3 tbsp of butter, melted (you can take it towards nut brown colour if you want a bit of extra depth of flavour), plus a little for greasing the tin
3 large ripe bananas, mashed (nb, if you don’t have large bananas use 3 and a half)
1 egg
3/4 cup brown/muscavado sugar
2 cups plain four
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup mixed berries – I like a mixture of raspberries and blueberries, but blackberries or a frozen mixed berry mix would also be fine.

Here’s how we roll

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F and lightly grease your loaf tin.

2. Peel your bananas and mash them well with the sugar. I use a terrific muddling stick that came with a bottle of Campari, but a fork would be fine.

3. Add the egg and butter and whisk together well. It will look awful and sloppy at this stage.

4. Sift the baking powder, soda and flour into the banana/butter/egg mix. Tumble in the berries as well.

5. Gently fold and mix to incorporate the flour. Don’t worry if the berries bleed through the mix. Try to do it gently so you don’t make it too stiff once it’s baked.

6. Pour into the loaf tin and place in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until a stick comes out clean and it is brown on top.

7. Leave in the pan for five minutes, then turn out to cool on a rack.

  1. Wait, another book on the way? I have been missing for a couple of weeks, and you write a book?
    I understand so well when you describe the I-wish-I-didn’t-live-on-the-other-side-of-the-world tears…

  2. tori, that’s the most beautiful letter! x

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