banana bread (with butter!)

There are two stages in a banana’s life which fill me with the sort of joy only truly good produce can excite. Joy, you ask, from a banana? Oh Yes! say I.

My first tale of enjoyment happens on the dawn of ripeness, when the stem is a bright shade of green and fades into creamy yellow about a centimeter into the fruit. Once it ripens further, the fruit itself becomes, at first, too sweet and then too mushy for me to find any pleasure within its peel. The fact that there’s such a small window that I can enjoy a plain, fresh banana often keeps me from buying them at all.

But then I remember the joy that befalls the sundown of the banana’s career: banana bread! If I don’t get around to eating them while they’re still green (and chances are good that I won’t), I simply watch as nature does her work in my fruit bowl, dreaming of the day when the yellow peel is clouded with brown spots and the stems pull effortlessly from the fruit like a chicken wing on a perfectly roasted hen.

By this time, I’ve probably waited more than a week and am antsy for the smell of the browning bread to fill my kitchen and lure my family out of their beds or away from their computers. Luckily, gratification is never far off, as banana bread, along with all of its quickbread buddies, is indeed quick (hence the name) and easy to make. The recipe that won my heart (by way of my stomach) takes a little longer to bake than others I’ve found, due to the higher concentration of banana, but is absolutely worth the wait. Besides, part of the inescapable allure of banana bread is the way it fills the room with the sweet aroma of ripened fruit and subtle cinnamon while rising shyly in the oven.

And I can’t forget to mention butter. I have a veritable love affair with butter that transcends that of many of the great lovers of old. We’re talking serious. But the reason I bring it up here is that it’s another thing this recipe has going for it: it calls for butter rather than oil, and let me tell you, you can really taste the difference. Buttery goodness through and through. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from spreading a little more of my favorite food group on a freshly sliced piece of banana bread, straight from the oven. Sometimes, though, even I can manage to eat a piece without any embellishment. It’s that good.

I’ve included the recipe below for your convenience, but if you would rather go straight to the source click here. I’ve made two minor changes to the original recipe: I reduce the number of bananas to two large or three small bananas, as I find that to be plenty. Also, I sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the top of the loaf before baking it to create a perfect crust.

Banana Bread

* 2 or 3 ripe bananas, smashed
* 1/3 cup melted butter
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* Pinch of salt
* 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
* Sugar and cinnamon to finish

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with adequate sugar and cinnamon to cover. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.


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