Oh Friends, I am writing to you in a state of pure olfactory pleasure — as my kitchen still carries the scent of perfectly baked banana bread from one heck of a winner of a recipe. Thank you! Thank you!, Deb Perelman of the absolutely delightful website titled: Smitten Kitchen and author of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
The recipe I gleaned from Perelman’s site did not disappoint. The banana bread was moist, tender — not heavy at all, nor overly sweet and most deliciously seasoned with the spices of autumn — cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves. Ohhhhhhh yummmmm.
Banana bread is one of those desserts? breakfast treats? quick breads? all of the above, Darlings, that we’ve all grown up with, right? Who has not taken a bite of banana bread, better yet, who hasn’t smelled it baking? It’s warm, it’s comforting, it is forgiveness itself when one, let’s say, has a rough morning getting the little beasts to school. Please interpret “beasts” as my beautiful children, of whom I adore. I do. I adore them.
But this morning, I’m not gonna lie. It just wasn’t perfect. It was pretty much ugly and awful. The kind of send-off that deserves some kind of recovery, some rehabilitation, gentle reflection — all in the form of baking banana bread in the aftermath of the tornado that was this morning’s drama-filled preparation for an otherwise ordinary school day. Yes, banana bread was the drink (alas, no, I could not find any bourbon in the house, so this time, this. Time. I left it out.), it was the Valium, it was the long run for some. Baking this little something sweet was how I worked it all out. It quite literally calmed my nerves while keeping my mind focused and my hands busy.
Ahhhh…..banana bread, which now that I think about it, begins by taking a few ugly, over-ripened bananas that seem to deserve no better than a dip in the garbage can. And yet, even in all their brown-spottiness, these bananas when mixed with some butter, some sugar, flour and spices bloom into something of joy and peace. Something deliciously soothing.
So, if you’re not as of yet acquainted with Ms. Perelman, I urge you to go, now, and take a little stroll through the lively streets of her website. This woman, out of her tiny Manhattan apartment, works on recipes from reputable sources such as Cooks Illustrated. Perelman then gives you her version of which recipe works best as tweaked by her, our culinary curious friend. She pretty much does all the work for us — takes away the guess-work as to whether or not the glossy recipe sitting in front of us will really work in our humble home kitchen.
Oooh, I think I’m going to change this blog’s byline to: With Love From Your Curiously Culinary Friend or Dame. I like the word, Dame… from my humble home kitchen to yours.
Here’s the recipe that worked very well for me as of this very morning:
Jacked-Up Banana Bread as it appears on the website: http://smittenkitchen.com/
- 3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
- 1/3 cup (75 grams) melted salted butter
- 3/4 to 1 cup (145 to 190 grams) light brown sugar (I agree with Perelman and used the lesser amount. I also packed the sugar, but next time, for kicks I’ll weigh it out and see what the difference is.)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) bourbon (optional)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) cinnamon
- Up to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg ( I grated a fresh one, I’m sure ground is fine.)
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 1 1/2 cups (190 grams) flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices. 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 ( I used two mini loaf pans instead). Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.
Note: It took just 35 minutes in my oven to bake the two mini loaves. After 20 minutes my home smelled divine. Stay around as your banana bread bakes, check after 30 minutes by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Be careful that you don’t get a false, too moist reading by spearing a banana. Use your nose to guide you. When it smells like banana bread baking in your kitchen, it’s soon to be done.
“You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy. Mix them, Mix them!” — from Hafiz, To Build a Swing