Spring is a fitful affair in Maine. After a nice spell of sunny weather, the past week has been gray and chilly with intermittent rain. Between rain showers, I did manage to clear the leaves from my flower beds. Now, weather permitting, it’s on to rearranging, fertilizing, and adding compost. And planting flowers, which I love best of all.
Today—another gray day—our friends Judy and Paul are coming over for banana bread, tea, and talk. I’ll put out my flowered placemats, but not too soon as I know the cats will decide clean mats are the perfect place to nap. (I hate, hate, hate having the cats on our dining room table, but they sneak onto it every chance they get.) Not many flowers are up in the garden, but I’m hoping to make a small bouquet of pansies and hyacinths.
It’s a funny thing about banana bread. I usually only make it when the bananas are so far gone that I don’t even want them sliced in my cereal never mind eaten as is. In that sense, banana bread almost seems like a consolation prize, something you never make just because you want the bread but rather because you don’t want the bananas thrown out.
But after the bread is baked, there it is—lovely, sweet, brown, and, of course, banana-ie. Smear a thick slice with butter or cream cheese, and you have a bread worthy of tea. With peanut butter, it makes a perfect breakfast. Give a loaf to your library director for his birthday, and his wife will ask you for the recipe. (Kristen, I’m getting to that part.)
It hardly seems fair, then, to relegate banana bread to something you only make when the bananas have gone mushy. A bread that tasty deserves respect. But life is like that, and good things don’t always get the respect they deserve.
The banana bread I make is a basic recipe that I’ve adapted from good old Betty Crocker. However, I add an ingredient—cinnamon—that is not usually found in banana bread, and I believe it is this addition that makes my bread a teensy-weensy bit better than average.
My husband Clif believes that unless banana bread is very fresh, it is best toasted, and I must admit he has a point. Toasting adds a nice crunch as well as providing a warm surface for the butter to melt.
Toasted or untoasted, banana bread is a treat for a gray day. Or a sunny day. As I’m typing this, the clouds are thinning, and I see patches of blue sky. Let’s face it—any day is a good day for banana bread
Adapted from a Betty Crocker Recipe
- 2(1/2) cups of flour
- 3(1/2) teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 cup of mashed bananas
- 1 cup of sugar
- Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine four, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and stir well.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the egg and whisk well. Add the milk, vegetable oil, mashed bananas, and sugar. Stir until it is well mixed.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir—about a minute—until the batter is well mixed.
- Pour batter into greased and floured loaf pan.
- Bake 55 or 65 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
- Let the bread set in the pan for at least 5 minutes before removing it.
- Serve with butter or cream cheese and be sure to appreciate this unassuming bread that can be tucked in the freezer when the loaf has cooled and be there whenever you need it.