It’s official! I have skipped past the “turning into my mother” stage of life and moved swiftly into turning into my grandmother. In particular, I have turned into my paternal grandmother, the amazing, brilliant, much-missed Clarice Lewis. She was strong, feisty, an unashamed feminist, an activist, a lover of costume jewellery and bold lipstick – and she always had at least two cakes in the house at any given point in time.

Her cakes were legendary, especially the ginger cake with the wavy pink icing. I still haven’t been able to unearth that recipe so I’m going to have to set aside some time to try and recreate its fluffy, spicy goodness. But in the meantime, I once again had a couple of bananas that needed to be used. So, once again, I went for the lockdown staple of banana bread.

My last banana bread featured glace cherries and mixed peel for a stained glass effect, along with a hint of almond flavour. This time around, I’ve added a cinnamon swirl and a hint of lemon juice to the batter. I posted a picture of the latest banana bread on my Facebook page and a friend of mine commented that it looks great but she doesn’t like bananas! For other anti-banana types, this can be made without banana but maybe add a little extra butter and flour to bulk it out. Other possible additions that would work well with the cinnamon swirl and hint of lemon in the batter include grated apple or dried fruit. This bad boy can also be frosted – I would suggest using the cream cheese frosting from my lemon and blueberry ripple cake.

As much as I love cooking, I am looking forward to restaurants reopening post-lockdown. As well as the sheer joy of sitting at a table to eat a meal prepared by someone else, I get loads of cookery ideas from dining out. But in the meantime, we’ll always have banana bread…

Cinnamon swirl banana bread


For the cake batter

2 ripe bananas

Juice of one lemon (or three tablespoons of bottled lemon juice)

175g unsalted butter, softened

85g caster sugar

1/3 cup honey (80ml)

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla essence or extract

225g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

For the cinnamon swirl

25g unsalted butter

3 tablespoons caster sugar or granulated sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon



  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin.
  2. Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl and add the lemon juice.
  3. Add the butter, sugar and honey and beat well. Don’t panic if you don’t get a nice, smooth consistency at this point.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla, flour and baking powder and beat well – now it should look like a smooth batter.
  5.  In a saucepan, combine all the cinnamon swirl ingredients over a low-to-medium heat (sugar can burn really fast). Stir constantly until the butter has melted and it is all mixed into a thick, slightly gritty paste.
  6. Pour some of the batter into the loaf tin and then use a teaspoon to dot the cinnamon mix at regular intervals. Use a skewer to gently swirl it into the batter. Add some more batter, add some more cinnamon mix, do some more gentle swirling. Keep going until you are all out of batter and cinnamon mix.
  7. Cook for 50-60 minutes, until it is firm on top and springs away from the edges of the tin. Allow to cool before serving.

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