Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Banana Bread to the N'th degree

Here we go again - me and my recipes. This one isn't exactly a secret, but this is the first time I've ever actually shared it. I love banana bread, and over the years I've tried more than a few variations, but I finally futzed and tweaked enough. Enough? Really? There's an "enough"? Yep, at least in this case, I discovered that one can go too far, and scaled things back to my final recipe.

People are happy to take it off my hands when I don't want it - most of the time I make mini-loaves and give away half of them. The Evil Genius can eat an entire mini-loaf in one sitting if I let him.

Ready? Let's get cranking!

The cast for the basic bread:
3 large or 4 small/medium, very ripe bananas. Really, very ripe. They should be black and wrinkly and look disgusting. Peels like leather, and when they're good and horrible, I use scissors to snip the top off and squeeze from the bottom like toothpaste. This time, mine aren't as ripe as usual, but I was impatient and wanted my house to smell good now!

2 eggs. I use organic, Omega 3 eggs from the 4Grain company.

1/2 C butter, room temperature (unless the room is, like, 3 degrees, and then you might want to walk around with it in your armpit until it is nice and soft). Yes, butter. That's an entire stick, and no skimping!

2 heaping Tbsp whole fat sour cream, because how else are you going to cultivate that fifty-acre ass??

2 overflowing tsp fresh lemon juice. You can use that fake "real" stuff if you must, but I don't like it one little bit. Besides, I can use what's left of the lemon to make fresh lemonade and give the squozed lemon to the Evil Genius for a lick or twelve; he giggles with delight even as he puckers.

1 cup sugar. You can make it a scant cup, if you like, I won't tell. I usually use about 3/4 cup, myself, because I add other sweeteners later. You'll see.

2 C all purpose flour. I am planning on trying whole wheat flour one of these days, but most of the time I use White Lilly...which is apparently only available in the Southeastern US because we are stingy bastards and won't share the good stuff.

1 1/2 tsp baking powder.

1/2 tsp baking soda.

For bread to the N'th degree, add any or all of the following (be aware that the more chunky stuff you add, the looser/crumblier the finished bread will be):

A good squeeze or dollop of honey or molasses. (Don't ask me how they get a mole's ass into the jar - all I know is, it gives the bread a little extra heartiness and iron.) I use honey Spring through Autumn, molasses in Winter.

A handful or two of rolled oats. These put some interesting texture in the bread, and give it a fibre boost.

A handful each golden raisins, dried cherries, and dried cranberries. You can also add dates, diced prunes, dried blueberries, or black or red currants. Avoid dried pineapple and other citrus/acidic fruits - they do something funky and unpleasant in there, I have no idea why.

Walnuts or pecans (say it with me, pickahhhhns)(pinky up, darling, pinky up.) Use the leftover ones that are all broken and ugly - it's bread, no one will notice their lack of physical perfection.

Cinnamon. Lots and lots of cinnamon. I bet I use at least 2 Tbsp of the stuff.

A stand mixer comes in handy, here, but isn't vital. You will also need a sifter and a spatula in addition to your measuring apparatus.

Heat your oven to 350 F and butter or spray-oil your baking receptacle - I use a four-loaf pan because it works best for me, but a regular loaf pan works fine, and muffins are equally useful.

Measure flour, baking powder, baking soda , and cinnamon into the sifter and set them aside for a bit.
Get those bananas naked and into the mixing bowl. If using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment. If you're doing this by hand, use whatever makes you happy while beating the bananas into a mushy, liquid mess.Plop the butter in and mix until well incorporated. Eggs next, then sour cream, then lemon juice. Add the sugar. Mix well between additions.

Finally, give a nice drizzle of honey or molasses - the exact amount is...some. I have no idea. More than a tablespoon, less than a cup? I bet I use about a quarter cup, maybe a little less, but don't hold me to that - I'm wishy-washy.

Now that you have something that looks like it's gone horribly wrong in the bowl, it's time to add your dry ingredients.
Sift in the flour mixture in three or four lots, always mixing well between additions.

Toss in the oats, mix well.

Add fruits and/or nuts last, and mix just enough to distribute them in the batter.
Scrape down the sides and use the spatula to scoop the batter into the waiting receptacle and bake at 350 for 45 - 75 minutes (depending on baking aparatus and oven temperature and how the planets are aligned). It's done when the smell of baking bread has driven you wild with desire and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.Let the bread cool in the pan for a few minutes, then remove to a rack and cool completely - except for the piece you had to cut off right away and slather with butter so it melted into the slice and became something wonderful for your whole body to shiver over as you ate it.Once cool, it keeps for a week or so wrapped in foil, but you can freeze it indefinitely if you want. Serve warmed with butter melting in, or room temperature with cream cheese, or just plain.

Because my bananas weren't as ripe as usual, and because I used three instead of four, these loaves came out a touch dry. Dang. Now I'll have to servem with butter. Oh, well. The smell of these baking loaves fills the house for days. I love coming home to a baking scented house!

Spare a crust for a starving Evil Genius??


foolery said...

I WILL try this, Kyddryn -- thanks!

Typically, though, I'm not wild about banana bread. It smells so good, and holds so much promise, but it always lacks . . . something. I can't define it, but it looks like you may have addressed the missing whatever!

My tweak recipe is pumpkin bread, which I have played with for years until I've gotten it just as I like it. My latest thing is to substitute 1-2 horribly black bananas for part of the pumpkin. Pumpkin banana sounds ridiculous, but I LOVED it. Pumpkin persimmon was great, too. And I have actually substituted lime juice for lemon juice and it was FAB.

Here's a link to my recipe:


Kyddryn said...

Cheers! I'll give it a go. In the fall, especially for Samhain/Hallowe'en, I make a Pumpkin Spice Cake with Vanilla, Ginger, Cinnamon buttercream icing. Good Gods, it's smack-your-mama good, and in no way calorically redeeming.