Sometimes I feel a bit guilty about being so obsessed with British culture...but then I reflect how many of the great authors of the British canon I studied in graduate school were actually Irish. George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Oliver Goldsmith, Richard Sheridan, Johnathan Swift, the Brontes, Samuel Beckett...
When I lived in England, I still remember marveling at the completely trivial and inconsequential things about the food that were totally different than U.S. food and hadn't been changed by globalization. Things like salad cream, flapjacks (the British oat bars, not pancakes), vegetarian steak and prawn-flavored crisps...and banoffee everything. When I was there, you couldn't get good pizza (although you could get some really bad pizza with sweetcorn and tuna, if you so desired) or bagels, but banoffee and sticky toffee pudding flavors were even available as low-fat yogurt flavors...
I recently finished a biography of the Anglo-Irish author Oscar Wilde. One of those great books that look oh-so-scholarly but are really all about Victorian sex scandals (hetero as well as homosexual) and prostitution. For those of us who need our Fifty Shades of Grey with footnotes to feel good about ourselves. Anyway, Oscar Wilde said "nothing succeeds like excess," so merging the humble Irish soda bread with the very excessive British flavor of banoffee seemed appropriate for St. Patrick's Day. Now I just need to find a book group that likes to chat about 500-page Victorian biographies and novels, rather than Eat, Drink, Pray, Love.
Banoffee Irish Soda Bread
2 overripe bananas
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute...I used the Greek yogurt substitute) plus 1-2 tablespoons extra liquid
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-3/4 cup crushed Health Bars
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mash bananas, egg, buttermilk, and sugar together.
3. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together.
4. Incorporate wet and dry mixtures. If the mixture is very dry, add water or milk until the batter is fully incorporated but not 'wet.' The bread should form a ball shape and pull away from the bowl. Fold in the crushed Health Bars.
5. Bake free-standing on a baking sheet lined with parchment for 45 minutes. The top of the bread should be firm to the touch, but still springy.