Favorite Banana Bread

Years ago, I stopped searching for a better banana bread.  This recipe ticks all the boxes: easy, packed with bananas, and exceptionally moist.

Sliced Banana Bread with melting butter

It’s no secret I’m an Anglophile, especially in my choice of TV programmes (I couldn’t resist). My current favorite, to no one’s surprise, is the Great British Baking Show. Saturday mornings, before getting my own bake on, I treat myself to an hour of Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, a tent-full of amateur bakers and those classic only-in-Britain colloquialisms, such as “scrummy” and “oh my giddy aunt,” that I’m dying to introduce into the common American lexicon.

Before bed, when I’m brain-dead and in need of mindless comfort, nothing beats Escape to the Country; Brits house-hunting for their perfect “chocolate box” countryside cottage. I’ve picked up a few British idioms during my viewing of this show as well – like the aforementioned “chocolate box” as well as “homely.” “Homely” to the Brits doesn’t mean the same as “homely” in the states. It’s their term for homey, comforting, cozy. “The snug with wood-burner is quite homely.”

Combining the two shows leads me to this recipe, which can only be described as “homely baking” – I can almost imagine pulling freshly- baked tins of quick bread from my “range cooker” in my exposed-beamed Yorkshire kitchen, thatching optional.

Years ago, I stopped searching for a better banana bread. This recipe from Saveur ticks all the boxes – easy, packed with bananas, and exceptionally moist.


Favorite Banana Bread

  • Servings: One 9” x 5” loaf pan
  • Print

This moist banana bread is quick to make, packed with flavor and my go-to recipe when overripe bananas are on hand.


Ingredients

  • Butter for greasing pan
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup flour, plus more for pan
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • ⅔ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan with butter and dust with flour; set aside. In a small bowl, combine milk and white vinegar and set aside
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, curdled milk, vanilla, egg and egg yolk. Pour wet ingredients over dry and whisk until just combined. Fold in nuts and mashed bananas.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until dark golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the loaf comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Zucchini Bread with Blueberries

Zucchini Bread

Thwarted again! The plan was to wrap up the scone bake-off this weekend with a final ginger scone recipe that, if I remember correctly, made a flavorful, but cake-like scone.   Five zucchinis in my CSA basket pushed me in another unexpected direction. This is my “go to” zucchini bread recipe – either with or without the blueberries.

Zucchini Bread with Blueberries
Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

Bread
2.5 c. Grated zucchini
½ t. plus ½ t. Salt
3 c. plus 1 T. All-purpose flour
1 t. Baking soda
1 t. Baking powder
1 T. Cinnamon
¼ t. Nutmeg
¼ t. Clove
3 Eggs
1 c. Vegetable oil
2 ¼ c. Sugar
1 T. Vanilla extract
1 pint Blueberries (optional)
¾ c. Chopped walnuts (optional)
Streusel
4 T. Butter
¼ c. Quaker oats
¼ c. Chopped walnuts
¼ c. Sugar or brown sugar
2 T. Flour
¼ t. cinnamon

Directions:
Place grated zucchini in colander, sprinkle with ½ t. salt and toss. Grease and flour two 8×4 loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make streusel topping by combining strudel ingredients and blending with fingers until pea-sized crumbs form.

Sift 3 c. flour, ½ t. salt, baking, soda, baking powder and spices in a bowl. Using mixer, beat eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla together. Add sifted ingredients to egg mixture and gently combine until flour is fully incorporated. Dust blueberries with 1 T. flour (helps blueberries from sinking to bottom). Wring as much liquid from zucchini as possible using a dry kitchen towel. Add zucchini, blueberries and walnuts to batter and stir until combined. Pour batter into pans and sprinkle with streusel.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack for 20 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.

Two Bit Tarts

Tarts

Red plum, Almond and peach tarts

No, I haven’t hung up my tart pans and chef’s knife, but my bill-paying career has lately taken up all of my time – traveling, traveling, traveling from Miami to Chicago with a stop in Denver, island hopping from Nassau to Aruba to Grand Cayman and most recently, Napa, Phoenix and San Diego. It’s no wonder when the last trip wrapped on Thursday, my immune system plummeted on Friday, allowing a cold (or is it flu?) to lay me low.

I haven’t been completely negligent in my baking, just my baking blogging. This weekend, with a fever and stuffed nose, it’s the perfect time to catch up. After whipping up an utterly unhealthy banana bread studded with peanut butter baking chips and smothered with cream cheese frosting*, I returned to my tart troubles.

After a few more imperfect iterations, I settled on my Culinary School pate sucree with a portion of the flour substituted with almond flour to give it some crumble. The resulting crust is sturdier than Hesser’s yet not as rock hard as the original sucree. It works for cream and custard fillings (lemon, key lime, coconut and almond), but becomes soggy overnight when filled with stone fruit. We’ll call that a ½ win.

The Crust
7.5 oz. softened butter
3 oz. sugar
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. lemon zest
1/2 t. vanilla
3 oz. egg, beaten
8 oz. All Purpose flour**
2 oz. almond flour

Preheat oven to 375.  Cream butter and sugar. Add salt, zest, vanilla and egg and beat until fully incorporated. Combine flours and mix until incorporated. Weigh out 2.75 oz. for each tartlet and press into sides and bottom of tartlet pans***. Blind bake as needed.

*Future trial – substitute pastry flour
**Future trial especially for my personal trainer – banana bread with Reese’s minis and crispy bacon covered in cream cheese frosting. God bless a girl with 12% body fat that still understands food porn.
***I’ve found a tortilla press works wonders for mass production. I pressed a 2.75 oz. ball of dough flat between two pieces of plastic wrap in the press, then fit the dough into the pans, pushing the overhang back in the sides as reinforcement.

Move the Goddamn Horse

bad banana

This time last year, I found myself on vacation at Miraval. While the resort was a little too “L.A.” for my appreciation (entitlement of some infringing on the relaxation of others), I did enjoy a hot and dusty afternoon spent with cowboy-therapist, Wyatt Webb, in a program called “It’s Not about the Horse.” While too lengthy and complicated to describe in detail here, the point of the exercise was to leave personal baggage in the horse ring and take away an “Aha” moment through (what appeared to be) a simple exercise with a horse.

My particular moment sums up as, “Sometimes you’ve just gotta move the goddamn horse.” In other words: No matter how much drive, desire, or determination you have, if you do what’s already been done, don’t be surprised when you get the same results.

I watched a dozen people try to lift the same leg on the same horse in the same manner again and again and again – all without much success. When it was my turn, I realized I had to work with the same horse, but I could switch legs. So, I moved the horse, grabbed a different leg and, voila, mission accomplished.

If you are not getting anywhere, sometimes the best action to take is to step away and approach from a different angle (moving the horse). Is this damn crust the horse this week? Do I need to scrap it and start fresh?

Today, I make banana bread and leave the tart crust for tomorrow.

Artisanal gelato of the week: Banana bread

I tried it with  1/2 c. of banana bread crumbs, but I don’t like the final texture.  The roasted bananas, candied walnuts and chocolate shavings are enough…

Banana bread gelato

Banana Bread Gelato

3 very ripe bananas, sliced ½ inch thick

1/3 c. brown sugar

1 T. butter cut in small pieces

2.5 c. milk Milk

Sugar

Pinch salt

Egg yolks

Heavy cream

Vanilla

½ – 3/4 c. candied walnuts

½ c. shaved milk chocolate

1/2 c. banana bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix bananas, brown sugar and butter together in a baking dish.  Bake for 40 minutes, stirring once.

Warm milk, ½ sugar and salt.  Whisk yolks with remaining sugar and temper with milk.  Make custard base. Pour cream in bowl set over ice bath. Emulsify custard with banana and syrup and pour through sieve into cream.  Add vanilla and cool.  Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate at least 8 hours.  Pour mixture into ice cream maker and process according to maker’s directions.  Add walnuts and chocolate 5 minutes before gelato is done.  Cover and chill.