Pick of the bunch: Skye Gyngell's banana desserts

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Bananas are perfect for eating on the move and delicious in desserts... but best of all, says Skye Gyngell, is that they still taste sublime when slightly squishy and bruised

Bananas are a given of modern-life eating; easy to eat on the run and endlessly sustaining, they are perfect for grabbing on the way out to work in the morning.

Sweet, firm, easy to peel and with a backnote of lemon or lime, bananas are picked and shipped when they are bright green and unripe. They slowly ripen as their starch begins to turn to sugar, and when brown flecks begin to appear on the skin, the flavour is at its very best – this is the stage when the sugar content is at its height and its texture most appealing.

With a cup of strong coffee, banana bread – still slightly warm from the oven – is also one of my favourite foods for breakfast. The recipe for that, and the others here, are quick, uncomplicated and easy to prepare.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, www.petershamnurseries.com

Bananas with butterscotch sauce

This dish is rich, but the bananas give a fresh, slightly lemony taste, balancing out the intense sweetness of the sauce. The butterscotch sauce is almost impossible to get wrong, as the quantities of each ingredient are of little importance.

Serves 4

100g/31/2oz muscovado sugar
100g/31/2oz unsalted butter
100ml/31/2fl oz double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Allow 11/2 bananas per person

Start by making the butterscotch. Place all the ingredients bar the bananas into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir to allow the ingredients to melt and combine, but do not let it boil too much. Remove from the stove and allow to cool until tepid. Now peel and slice the bananas in half lengthwise, arrange on a plate, then simply pour the warm sauce over the top.

Banana bread

This bread is best served warm from the oven, when the lovely smell of cinnamon and cooked bananas is still lingering in the kitchen. Bananas that have begun to soften and bruise are best – so this recipe is perfect to use up the fruit sitting in the bottom of your fruit bowl.

Serves 4

2 tbsp chopped almonds
100g/31/2oz muscovado sugar
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder
Pinch of salt
225g/71/2oz plain flour
4 medium-sized bananas
110g/33/4oz butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas5. Place the chopped almonds and dark sugar into a small bowl, mix together using your fingers and set aside. Now take a large mixing bowl and sift the cinnamon, baking powder, salt and flour together. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas using a fork then add to the dry ingredients, along with the softened butter.

Using an electric mixer, beat until all the ingredients are well combined, starting slowly and gradually increasing the speed, for a minute. Add the eggs one by one and mix well to combine.

Line an eight-inch loaf tin with parchment paper and pour the cake mixture in, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the brown sugar and chopped almonds over the top of the cake mix, then place on the middle shelf of the oven to cook for an hour. Remove and allow to cool slightly before turning out. Eat immediately.

Banana pudding

Serves 8

100ml/31/2fl oz cold water
290ml/10fl oz sweetened condensed milk
480ml/161/2fl oz double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
15 Savoyard (sponge finger) biscuits
6 bananas, peeled and sliced diagonally
1 tbsp good-quality dark chocolate, grated

Place the water and condensed milk into an electric mixer and beat for a minute or until well mixed. In a separate bowl, beat the cream and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the "custard" into the stiffened cream and chill for an hour. Once cold, remove from the fridge and set aside while you build the rest of the dish.

Taking a serving bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, place half the biscuits on the base, followed by a layer of bananas, followed by a generous layer of the custard. Now do a second layer of biscuits, followed by the bananas, finish with a layer of custard, smooth the top using a spatula, and cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge to firm for two hours.

Just before serving, sprinkle over the chocolate and serve simply on its own.

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