Legend has it that Cleopatra, the last active ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt, had seven hundred donkeys milked every day so she could opulently fill her bathtub to soak her royal self in. The properties of this magic milk supposedly prevented wrinkles and assisted in preserving youth and beauty. If I were to choose a dairy product to ablute myself in, it would be a tub filled to the brim with fresh ricotta. Since our local butcher started selling this soft cheese in adorable little blue basins, I have gone on a bit of a ricotta bender (which is certainly easier on my liver than a wild drinking spree would be.)
This versatile creamy white cheese is mildly sweet and tangy and is used in both sweet and savoury cooking. It makes a beautiful breakfast when smeared on crunchy sourdough toast atop some fruity berry jam. I have dolloped it between roasted eggplant, zuchinni and red capsicum in a vegetable bake. It’s been beaten into a lime ricotta cake, stuffed into veggies and baked and makes a great filling for eggplant involtini. Huge spoonfuls have been stirred through pasta sauces just before serving as well as added to mushrooms and thyme to fill a gluten free savoury tart.
Bananas past their prime cannot be wasted and what better way to use them up than in a banana bread that also calls for ricotta? Yes sure, recipes for this ubiquitous bake are a dime a dozen but this is a wonderfully soft, tender and aromatic loaf. It is even better when topped with just a smidgen more of that fresh ricotta. Go big like Cleopatra or go home.
SOFT RICOTTA AND BANANA BREAD
WHAT YOU NEED
113 grams (1/2 cup butter), melted
3 ripe bananas
1 large egg
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup fresh ricotta (not skim ricotta)
1 tsp vanilla extract
270g gluten free plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Pour the melted butter into a large bowl, add the bananas and mash well into a pulp.
Add the egg and beat until smooth.
Add the sugar, ricotta and vanilla and mix well.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the centre of the oven for 55-65 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (You may need to cover the top of the loaf with foil towards the end of the bake to avoid overbrowning.)
Remove to a cooling rack and let cool for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
We ate the crusts of this deliciously soft and moist loaf whilst they were still warm. Just wonderful.
Cooking notes: I have been getting really good results with a gluten free flour blend from Bobs Red Mill called ‘Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour.’ It is found in some supermarkets and health food stores. I have no affiliation with this company and haven’t been paid in any way, shape or form for mentioning this brand. I just really like it and couldn’t keep it to myself, that would be selfish.
A slight adaptation of this recipe
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