Sunday, January 24, 2010
Almost Husband and I just moved in January to our new apartment and I can tell it's going to take me a while to get used to this stove. Like most appliances of an indiscernible decade that could be the 1970's but also maybe the 1980's, this stove seems to have a mind of its own. Temperatures, it would appear, are mere guidelines, and the nervous cook must perform constant vigil over the simmering, bubbling, baking contents to ensure she doesn't end up with a charred panful of culinary hope. Last night, I burnt beyond salvation what I believe was going to be a spectacular banana bread.
I had decided to bake some banana bread for a number of reasons. One, I love it. But two, and perhaps the most persuasive of reasons, my freezer has become something of a repository for the overripe bananas from my CSA box, and the truth is, I actually hate bananas. I will only eat them in cake or loaf form. And every two weeks, I get a bunch of bananas, so bright and eager and sunshine yellow, and I inwardly groan knowing Almost Husband will divorce me if I add one more bunch of bananas to our tiny freezer. So banana bread is, in effect, helping my Almost Marriage run smoothly.
Banana bread recipes are a dime a dozen. I've tried so many, some calling for rum or coconut, peanut butter or cocoa powder. I've also tried some of the healthier ones, subbing with whole wheat flour, using applesauce in place of some of the oil. But I've never found one that has the right consistency and taste; a meeting place of not-quite-cake pillowy texture and a hint of sweetness that doesn't overpower.
But here, here is the recipe that satisfies, that meets its full potential on its own, but could also invite a smear of butter or a dab of cream cheese on a slice in more decadent moments. I've used this recipe from the wonderful Smitten Kitchen but made a couple of changes because I don't have bourbon. In fact, I am so liquor illiterate that I had to ask Almost-Husband what the difference between bourbon and whiskey was, and whether I could use whiskey instead. And then I thought about it. Would I want whiskey in my banana bread? And the answer was no. I also reduced the amount of sugar to 1/2 a cup, because I like my loaves a bit less sweet than most recipes call for, but feel free to bump it up to 3/4 - 1 cup if you so choose.
Smitten Kitchen Banana Bread, as adapted from Simply Recipes:
3-4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup salted butter, melted
3/4 - 1 cup brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup and found it just lovely!)
1 egg, beaten lightly
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon of bourbon (I skipped this step - see above)
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon (I used 1/2 tsp for a more subtle spiciness)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves (I skipped this; I didn't have any)
1 1/2 cups of flour
1. Mash the bananas in a large bowl. Melt the butter and incorporate into the banana mash. Add the brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and bourbon; then the spices, and mix in. Then add the salt and baking soda and mix. Add the flour last and stir till just combined.
2. Pour mixture into an oiled/ buttered loaf pan and bake at 350 °F for about 50 minutes or until a tester knife comes out clean.
***My loaf was ready in about 40 minutes and I had to turn the heat down to 300 ° F due to my stove's whimsical nature regarding temperature.