Thursday, March 12, 2009
Betsy and I went to visit Charles and Christine in Oakland last week and those crazy kids had some bananas that were going south so we decided some bread was in order. The proportions are based on Mark Bittman's but it really is its own special "hmmm, what's in the pantry?" kind of recipe. And, as long as you don't veer off and use add-ins that are too liquidy, you can really tweak this basic version as much as you'd like (coconut, orange zest, chocolate shavings or chips, cardamom, wheat germ, peanut butter, etc, etc).
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter up a loaf pan and sprinkle some flour over it for sticklessness. Find a few ripe-to-overripe bananas and mash 'em up real good. I had three in mine but Christine thought it needed one more banana and I agree, so make it with at least 4 if you do this. At the time there was actually one more banana lying around but the baby had kind of eaten part of it...and you know what babies do to food. A combination of squishing and gumming. Anyway. Cream 1 stick softened butter together with 2 beaten eggs and mix the mashed bananas into this. For dry ingredients, combine 2 cups flour (I used all white flour but you can try replacing up to half with whole wheat for a denser, nuttier loaf) with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 3/4 cup sugar. I also added about 1 teaspoon of freshly ground cinnamon that Charles decided to grind from sticks in his coffee grinder. It definitely made the coffee taste cinnamony the next day anyway. Charles and Christine happen to have a lemon tree in their backyard (god, how I love the bay area! sigh) so I went out and picked one and added the zest and juice to the banana mixture. Make a little crater in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour the banana mixture into this. Don't overstir it while combining--as we have discussed, quickbreads and pancakes do not like to be overstirred! It makes them tough and it's sad because they're trying so hard and it's so lame, like Evan Rachel Wood: The Manson Years. I also added a handful of roughly chopped pecans in at this point, which is about the right time for add-ins of this shape and size (any dried fruit, nuts or chocolate). After it's mixed up but not overly so, pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan and pop it in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Give it a look-see and start poking at the center around the 45 minute mark. Here it is with about 15 minutes to go. It won't ever bake up totally dry inside because banana bread is supposed to be moist but neither do you want a gummy center, so be sure to check. It should come out all golden and fabulous smelling. Delicious toasted for breakfast the next morning, of course.