The list of people who know my secret are as follows: Alex, but he married me anyway; my mother-in-law, who was about to throw some old bananas out one day and I gave myself up, yelping “wait!” at the last moment; the lady at the bodega where I get my yogurt and fruit each morning, who watches me sift daily through the bright, yellow ones on top for the sordid, unlovable ones at the bottom of the pile; Molly, who I confessed my banana sin to in a moment of cream cheese-frosted camaraderie; and now you. Go easy on me, please.
My love of the spotty banana, unfortunately, conflicts with one of my other loves — banana bread. You see, exactly when the bananas hit their bread-making prime time, I don’t want to share them with anyone. I’m serious. I haven’t made it in years. But, I’m feeling generous this week, and also in need of a treat, and yes, I know so-called calorie-watching on top of my other aches and pains sounds an insult to, well, you know, but if I can’t exercise for so many weeks, something is going to have to give. Yet, seven days into this I’m itching for a little something-something, something small and tame and when I saw this recipe on Elise’s stunning site, I thought, for once, “well, maybe I could share.”
Oddly, and perhaps complimentary, enough, I found myself using Simply Recipes for this bread the way I use Epicurious: rummaging through each and every comment until I’m certain the adjustments I’m itching to make will work. And then? I jacked it up. I replaced white sugar with the light brown variety, and cut back on it, too; I added a splash of bourbon, salted butter and then doses of cinnamon, nutmeg and even cloves. And also, though it goes without saying by now, mixed it with one hand. I hope Elise’s friend’s friend doesn’t mind that I bastardized her recipe, I just couldn’t resist gilding the lily, as usual. And that one tablespoon of bourbon? This is no time to fixate on accurate measurements.
It was just what the doctor ordered. [Actually, no, the doctor this morning ordered six full weeks in the sling, but let's just talk about that another time, okay?] Let me rephrase: this is how I interpreted what the doctor ordered, and can you blame me? This is the height of banana bread perfection and all those little extras manage to add something fantastic without overwhelming the base flavor. It’s my new go-to recipe and Elise, you did my adored bananas proud.
Elise’s Friend Heidi’s Friend Mrs. Hockmeyer’s Banana Bread, As Jacked Up by Deb
Adapted from Simply Recipes
No need for a mixer for this recipe — need I say more?
3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar (depending on the level of sweetness you prefer, I always use the smaller amount)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cup of flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.