Before the Feast
One thing I remember from my childhood is waiting forever for dinner when we gathered at the relatives. Cries of “Mom! We’re starving!” were not uncommon from me and my siblings, then from my cousins when they came along. I remember bowls of nuts, maybe some Triskets, but nothing that tricked our childish minds into thinking we’d actually eaten. We were, of course, not starving, but we would have an early breakfast, drive to the relatives, and then not eat until dinner at around 3PM. We were hungry, and, being kids, we expressed our unhappiness over this state of affairs, especially if we couldn’t play outside.
So, to keep the little ones happy (and the big ones, too), I offer you this Banana Bread which can serve as a delicious and filling snack for the dreaded period between arrival and sitting down at the table. I found the original recipe at Epicurious.com when I was looking for a recipe which used something besides oil. I was intrigued by the use of sour cream and it has not disappointed. The recipe here is with my modifications (especially for my current oven).
This has become a “go to” for my family and we frequently vary the kind of chocolate used. Dark chocolate works well because it balances the sweetness, while white chocolate was…not a good match. I still haven’t tried it with chili chocolate, but I think the sweet and hot might be an interesting mix.
- 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for dusting pan
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup ripe banana mashed or pulped in food processor (about 2 large or 3 medium bananas)
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional butter for greasing pan
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, or hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped, or 3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or mini chocolate chips or other chocolate of your choice. You may also chop bar chocolate for use, but be certain to chop it somewhat finely.*
*If you want to use a combination of both nuts and chocolate, use up to 1 cup total.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Mash bananas. Or, alternatively, dump them in a food processor and basically liquify. Takes maybe a minute and I personally like the way it mixes in that state.
In a medium bowl, combine the banana, sour cream, and vanilla and stir to combine.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. I stop at about a minute and a half, scrape the bowl down, then start it up again. I use the “3” (medium) setting on my KitchenAid stand mixer. (I’ve had mine for over 20 years. Best wedding gift we received and much thanks to my brother and sister-in-law.) Yes, you can use a hand mixer. Takes slightly longer and keep a close eye on the texture.
Scrape the bowl down again and add the egg and beat on medium until completely incorporated, about 1 minute. I use the “2” (slower than medium, but not slow) setting for this.
Scrape it down again and Add the banana mixture and beat for about 30 seconds, 45 at most. You want to get it just mixed in to the point where it almost looks like a syrup. Again, the “2” setting.
Scrape and add the flour mixture in 2 batches, and stir on low until just incorporated, about 30 seconds total. Seriously, do not over mix. I use the lowest setting for this and scrape down between batches.
Add the nuts or chocolate chips, if desired, and use a rubber spatula to fold them into the batter.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of 1 (9- by 5- by 3-inch) loaf pan and dust with flour. The original has this as the first step; I save it for the last and by the time I’ve finished buttering, dusting and pouring, the oven’s ready to go.
Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf emerges clean and when you press gently in the center of the loaf, it springs back without leaving an impression, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool for 10 to 15 minutes then gently tap the pan on the countertop to help release the loaf. Place a second rack or a large plate on top of the loaf, invert, and then carefully remove the pan. Use the original rack to invert the loaf again so that it’s right side up then let cool completely before cutting and serving.
DO AHEAD: Banana bread can be baked ahead, cooled completely, and kept, wrapped in plastic wrap, up to 2 days, or frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, up to 3 months. If made ahead, take out of the refrigerator early the day of and let come to room temperature naturally.
In my oven, it takes 47 minutes precisely. The bread is “done” but still moist. You can download a copy of the recipe here.
I know this week is frantic for many, but if you’re looking for a book to sink your teeth into, check out CROSSROADS CORNER by Brenda Margriet. After an embezzling boyfriend puts her under police suspicion—and deeply in debt—Camryn Bendixon joins her grandfather’s failing construction company. Her goal is simple—work constantly to rebuild her career and her self-esteem. And if she must drag Bendixon and Sons back to profitability by her well-manicured fingernails, that’s what she’ll do.
Will Danson knows life is fragile—a fact brought home when Laura, his only child, lost her sight. Determined to provide for her, he does his best to balance managing the Prince George division of the Kohlenburg Group with his young daughter’s needs. But it can be a lonely road for a single dad.
Soon Camryn and Will are competing for construction bids and career-making contracts. But it is Camryn’s battered heart that Will truly wants to win.
If you’re celebrating, a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. To everyone, celebrating or no, may this week be a safe and happy one as we get ready for our MidWinter Retail Sales Opportunity, now happening just about, well, everywhere
Header photo by Dave Nakayama, used under Creative Commons license.