The first recipe I followed from go to whoa was this banana bread, from a classic Hamlyn production called the Summit All Colour Cookbook, written by Tess Mallos. Mallos, who was inducted into the (Sydney) magazine Food Hall of Fame in 2009, and who died, aged 79, in 2012, was a prolific writer in her heyday, particularly with works that highlighted her Greek/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern heritage.
Her greatest successes were The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook (1979), which has close to 45 editions published, and remains in print, and her first work, Greek Cookbook (1976) has seen more than a dozen editions. The Summit (1977) was a collection of recipes from here, there and everywhere, and was a typical Hamlyn publication: high-end production, belief in the need for colour images to provoke purchase and action, and simplicity of text.
My well-used copy of the Summit has more than 300 recipes, all accompanied by simple, but aspirational colour photographs. Its quality and longevity reminds me yet again: do we really need any more cookbooks (unless for new-age gizmos like the Thermomix)? Mallos obviously thought so, and so did her many publishers. Her legacy remains strong: she has her own page on Amazon featuring 16 of her books still available for purchase; and yes, you can get a copy of Summit, for $US1.93, plus $3.99 postage; surely a bargain of bargains.
There’s a side story to this banana bread. I had left home in 1979 (the inside cover of the Summit includes my name and the year), and one of the first purchases I made to christen my new abode was a food processor, a Robot-Coupe, the so-called junior version of the market leader—the Magimix, made by the same company. This machine, which created this first recipe, would later become the mainstay of a busy restaurant, its bowl held together by gaffer tape. Finally, the bowl cracked beyond any tape or glue or combination, and there were no more bowls, and no more Robot-Coupes: the machine was so powerful, and such a great worker, we were sure the company could not afford to continue producing such a workhorse, one that never needed replacing or upgrading. The Thermomix, with its added benefits, reminds me very much of that old favourite; since the Robot-Coupe, it’s the only one of my many kitchen machines that just keeps on keeping on.
- Preheat the oven to 175C fan-forced. Grease a 24-centimetre x 10-centimetre loaf tin and line with baking paper. I’m lazy about this; just tear off a large piece and shove it into the greased tin, pleating it deep into the corners.
- Place the flour, salt and sugar into the Thermomix bowl and blend 2 seconds/speed 6.
- Add butter and blend 5 seconds/speed 4, there should be no lumps of butter in the mixture.
- Add the egg, bananas and milk/bicarbonate soda mixture. Blend 15 seconds/speed 7. Scrape down the bowl to incorporate any loose flour, and blend 5 seconds/speed 5. The batter will be thick, but pourable: taste it, and lick your fingers.
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer into the centre comes out clean. If, after 30 minutes or so you feel the cake is getting a little dark, turn the oven down to 170C.
- I love it in the morning, spread with butter and home-made raspberry jam. This cake keeps well for a week if refrigerated; it is also excellent if, on the stale side, placed under the grill, and served gently buttered, so the butter just melts into the bread.
Adapted from the Summit All Colour Cookbook, by Tess Mallos (Paul Hamlyn, 1977)