This recipe for Banana, walnut and salted maple-syrup loaf, served with maple mascarpone was originally dreamed up to make use of left-over walnuts. It's so good, we'd suggest that even if you've run out, it merits a trip to the supermarket.

‘I always have bowls of walnuts at home over Christmas,’ writes Melanie Johnson, ‘but, as the decorations are put away, so are they and I like to make good use of them in the kitchen.’

We’d say that this recipe definitely counts as ‘good use’ – put the health kick on hold until Monday and enjoy a few slices of this at the weekend.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 225g ripe bananas (about 3), mashed
  • 1 more banana, halved length-ways
  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 125g unsalted butter, soft, but not greasy
  • 75g muscovado sugar
  • 1tspn vanilla-bean paste
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 50ml milk
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 50ml maple syrup (half for brushing, half for the mascarpone)
  • 250g mascarpone
  • A couple of pinches of sea salt

Method

Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 6. Grease and flour a one-litre loaf tin, tapping out the excess.

In a medium-sized bowl, mash the ripe bananas with the back of a fork and set aside.

Use an electric hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until even. Pour in the maple syrup, add the mashed bananas and beat again. Tip in the flour and mix briefly until just combined, adding the milk to loosen the mixture, before folding through the chopped walnuts.

Immediately pour into the prepared tin. Carefully place the halves of the single banana on top of the mixture and bake for about 30–35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Remove the loaf from the oven and, when it’s still hot and in the tin, use a skewer to make holes in the top. Brush with the maple syrup and then sprinkle with sea salt. Leave in the tin until it’s cool enough to handle and then place on a serving plate.

Use a fork to mix the maple syrup into the mascarpone and serve this alongside the warm banana bread. If there’s anything left the day after, you can slice the loaf and spread this on as a maple butter.