I’m not a dessert person.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll delight in a bowl of ice cream, a slice of tart apple pie, or a slice of decadent New York cheesecake. Usually, though, savoury wins out over sweet almost every time.
I do enjoy something not overly sweet with my coffee, though. A plain scone, some coffee cake, or banana bread.
Everyone around here seems to love banana bread. Good thing, too. It gives me a chance to use up all those scary-looking bananas that have turned black in the fruit bowl. (Toss them whole into the freezer at that point – they’ll keep almost forever until it’s time to bake.) Our local produce store also sells over-ripe bananas – cheap. You have to look under the produce shelves to find them.
A good banana bread should find that nice balance between crumbly dry and banana peel slippery. I found a great recipe in the Joy of Cooking. (A basic reference in this home – I figure any cookbook that can tell you how to deal with the squirrels that the crazy hunter next door dropped off must be comprehensive.)
Of course, I can never follow a recipe exactly, so the one below includes my own variations. I used to mix it up in a big bowl (I like rustic versions) but today I couldn’t resist using the vintage KitchenAid mixer Margaret found on e-bay last year. The pictures also show a double batch – the first loaf usually disappears so fast around here that otherwise there’s nothing for me to pack with my lunch the next day.
First, add the dry ingredients in a bowl:
- 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2-1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
Half-and-half white and whole wheat flours works well, too. I whisk these together in the bowl.
Then, in the mixer bowl (or a second, bigger bowl, if you’re doing this by hand) add and mix:
- 1/3 cup shortening (I use vegetable oil)
- 1/2 cup sugar (This is a little less than the original recipe calls for.)
Citrus garnish (The original recipe says 3/4 tsp lemon rind. I’ve often just used just a splash of Realemon from the fridge. Today I also added about a tsp of grated lime. What I really like is to drop as much as a 1/4 of an orange, peel and all, into a blender and add the whirled orange to the mix.)
- 1 egg
- 1 to 1-1/4 cups ripe banana pulp (For you normal people, that’s 3 average-sized bananas worth.)
Then add the dry ingreadients in about 3 batches along with a good handful (1/4 cup) each of raisins and broken pecan or walnut pieces (or whatever else interesting or handy that inspires you – or nothing at all).
Don’t over mix. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake: 350 degrees for 1 hour. (In my convection oven at 300 degrees it takes 1 hour and 10 minutes)
Remove it from the pan a cool it on a rack.
Can you wait for it to cool…?