Kitchen Lab: ‘naner, ‘naner, boo-boo
I keep thinking that bananas are a good idea, when in reality I don’t particularly care for them. I think, “Hey! I’ll eat fruit and be healthy! I’ll buy a bunch of bananas and take them to work every day!” and then a week later I have a bunch of bananas that look, almost literally, like awful poop.
Let’s take a moment to purge that thought from our minds before beginning to bake, shall we?
So, there you are with a bunch of black bananas that nobody would ever consider eating. Do you throw them away? NO! We can make them better, tastier, nommier… we have the technology! Because ovens are high-tech… I mean, we’re making banana bread! But first you’ve got to get ’em out of those icky peels. They’re all mooshy, so I suggest snipping off the ends with scissors and squeezing the banana-mush out the end. Squeeze carefully so the peel doesn’t blow out the sides! Or just give up on cleanliness and squoosh away. You’ll need to squeeze three overripe bananas into a bowl, and smush them with a fork until they’re mostly smooth.
Then you mix up the bread-y parts. This part’s ridiculously simple: Mix dry ingredients together. Mix not-dry ingredients together. Mix the two mixes together. TADA!
If you’ve got the time to let a stick of butter hang out and get all soft, I recommend it. Otherwise I usually just get lazy and melt it. (This whole “cream the butter” thing is probably the most annoyingly frustrating part of baking I’ve come across.) Beat in two eggs and your smooshed up bananas. In another bowl, mix 1.5 cups of regular flour, 0.5 cups of wheat flour, a teaspoon of salt, 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder, and 0.75 cup of sugar together. Pour the wet stuff into the dry stuff, stir only as much as necessary to blend it all up together.
The recipe calls for nuts, but I don’t care to ruin good snack foods with nuts. Eat ’em by themselves if you like ’em so much, sez I. However, there is a secret ingredient, one that everyone who has ever tried this banana bread has seemed a bit confused by, yet thinks is quite nice.
COCONUT! Who knew adding another tropical fruit to bread could be so delicious? It really makes this stuff so good, just go with it. If you try it and hate it, just feed it to your friends who appreciate interesting food and try again without the dang coconut. But even if you don’t want coconut, you do want to add a teaspoon of vanilla. This is also where you would add in the nuts if you’re a nutty person. Whatever you’re adding in at this point, don’t stir the batter more than necessary to distribute the coconut/nuts/vanilla/M&Ms/whatever, to avoid making your bread kinda tough and/or chewy.
Grease up a loaf pan and pour in the batter. And again with the forgetting to preheat the oven… 350 F for about 45 minutes to an hour. Do the toothpick test for done-ness.
WHAT TOOTHPICK TEST? I hear some of you say. This is one of those things where you don’t really realize how convenient it is to have certain tools to do your job until you realize you don’t. You take a wooden toothpick, stick it into the center of your item-wot-is-baking, and if it still has batter on it when you pull it out, your item-wot-is-baking is still needing to be an item-wot-is-baking for a little while longer. A few dry-ish looking crumbs on the toothpick are okay, they should look like the crumbs that will eventually be leftover on your plate after you’ve cut or eaten your tasty treat. Because that’s a done item-wot-is-baking. An item-wot-is-baked, yes?
If you don’t have toothpicks, I hear that bamboo skewers or pieces of spaghetti work too. I’ve never tried ’em, though. And, if you’re the gadget-y type, you can buy yourself a schmancy cake tester and wash it all the dang time. Because you really need more loose random stuff in a drawer in your kitchen.
Let the bread cool for 15 minutes or so before taking it out of the pan. Eat it while it’s still warm, it’s so good! With or without butter. Also pretty fantastic when toasted.
So, why do they call it banana bread when it is clearly cake? Inquiring minds want to know!