Sunday, January 24, 2010

Guilty Pleasures: Banana Bread

I can't commit to being a total local foodie because a year without banana bread is just plain crazy.

Oh, I can do without bananas on a day-to-day basis. In 2008, I stopped eating them when I quit shopping at grocery stores for a year, but I caved near the end, and accepted bananas from a friend. I'd forgotten about my fall-winter baking rituals with the annual banana bread tribute to my mom when I'd started the year's experiment.

Every fall when my recipes for baked goodies come out, Mom's banana bread tops of the list. Just the aroma of sweet bananas wafting through the house makes the annual ritual of this recipe worthwhile.

When I spotted whole wheat flour at Nash's Organic Produce at the market, my thoughts returned to Mom's banana bread in an instant. "What kind of wheat flour is it?" I'd asked the woman working there. "It's got less gluten than hard wheat. It's better for muffins." Or maybe banana bread . . .

I knew that banana bread could show me just how Nash's flour stacked up to flours I'd relied on in the past. I never expected the local flour would exceed my wildest expectations.

I don't think Finn expected it either. The warm bread was so tempting, Finn couldn't face it. You can't see the quivering here, but the drool was about to begin. It was time to snap the picture, pronto, and move the bread to the safety zone.

Back to making the bread, I'll tell you this. I got out Mom's old cookbook and it flopped to this exact recipe. "The Best" is written in the margin. The dogeared pages have been that way for decades.

Local substitutions included: Nash's whole wheat flour, butter from Golden Glen Creamery, eggs from Dale Woodring's daughter, Katy and walnuts from Grouse Mountain Farm, in Chelan.

Banana Bread
While this recipe says “optional” when it comes to adding nuts, Mom loved them and I’ve never considered nuts optional in her recipe. Alas as usual I had no milk for this recipe, so I used less flour-- 1 7/8 cup flour to be exact. If you have the milk try it, but this recipe also works just fine without it. Vegans can also omit an egg and add about 1/4 cup more mashed bananas. Chocolate lovers can melt 1 to 2 ounces of chocolate and stir it into the bananas before adding. I’ve often considered adding lavender, but haven’t done it yet.

2 cups Nash's organic flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg, beaten until light
3 tablespoons sour milk or buttermilk (optional)
2/3 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium bananas mashed with a fork)
1/2 cup broken nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º. Oil an 8 by 4-inch baking pan.

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. In another bowl cream butter and sugar together until light. Stir the beaten egg and mashed bananas together, then blend with the butter and sugar

Blend the banana mixture into the flour, in 3 parts alternately with sour milk. You may add the nuts, if desired.

Bake at 350º for approximately one hour. Put down your knife with butter. This bread is too good for that.

Look close and you can see the whole wheat. The flavor of Nash's whole wheat flour was sweet and the texture it created, perfect. The flavor reminded me of the times Mom added wheat germ to her bread. I loved it so much, I almost forgot to give Finn a taste.

What's your favorite baked guilty pleasure?


Kathy said...

Why am I craving banana bread? Your description did the trick and I don't feel one ounce of guilt!! Did Finn like it??

ddzeller said...

Thanks Kathy. Like is an understatement for Finn.