Parenting Challenges …

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Parenting goes like this:

Kid: What are these things?
Dad: Bananas.
Kid: OH MY GOD!!!! BANANAS ARE THE MOST AWESOME THING IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE!!! CAN WE HAVE BANANAS FOR EVERY MEAL FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?!?!?!?! NOTHING MAKES ME HAPPIER THAN BANANAS!! BANANAS ARE PROOF THERE IS A GOD WHO CARES ABOUT US AS A SPECIES!!!! THERE IS A SUPREME BEING CONTROLLING FATE AFTER ALL!!!

Next week …

Dad: Look, sweetie, I bought bananas!
Kid: Fuck bananas! I hate bananas!
Dad: Wha …?

Kind of a blanket thing with any food though it has to be said that eventually they come around again so to all the new parents out there who are freaking out, I refer you to Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels when I say “Chill, Winston.”

Happily, there is a solution to this problem, at least as it applies to bananas. Bananas bread is proof that part of God’s plan is that sometimes things go pear shaped and people need to be able to recover.

At least that’s what I inferred from of 8 years of Catholic school.

It is essential that the bananas used are overripe. You should not be able to lift the bunch by a single banana without that banana tearing away at the stem. Of course you have to catch them before the fruit flies get to them so in this respect it’s kind of like cantaloupe in that there is a seeming 15 minute window when they are ready.

It’s also helpful to use European style butter as it has a higher fat content which will result in both a better flavor and better texture as there will be more for the baking powder to react with which is what gives you the bubbles in a quick bread (quick bread is a bread that doesn’t rely on yeast for its rise and thus doesn’t require a lengthy rest for fermentation to occur).

Equipment

  • 9×4″ loaf pan
  • Half sheet pan, rimmed
  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment (or a large bowl and a big fork)
  • Medium sized bowl
  • Microplane
  • Spatula, preferably silicone
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients

  • 4 overripe bananas (see image at top of page)
  • 1.5 cups of all purpose flour
  • .5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 level teaspoons baking powder
  • .5 level teaspoon baking soda
  • .25 teaspoon fine salt (preferably sea salt)
  • Zest of a decent sized, unwaxed lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • .5 cup walnuts, toasted dry in a small pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • .75 cup light brown sugar
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled, preferably European style
  • .5 cup whole or 2% milk

Time: 20 minutes prep, 1.5 hours or so baking, 10 minutes cooling. 2 hours total.

Yield: a 9″ loaf of banana bread. You decide what you do with it. I’m not judging. But I also don’t want to hear about it.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F and put the half sheet pan in the oven on a lower rack
  2. In the non mixer bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest, salt, cinnamon and walnuts. Stir until mixed.
  3. In the stand mixer bowl combine the brown sugar, milk, butter, bananas, and eggs in that order.
  4. Blend the ingredients in the mixer bowl, start on low speed and increase to low-medium as they become incorporated.
  5. Add the dry ingredients a half cup at a time until you have a uniform batter.
  6. Coat the loaf pan with butter. I use a pat of room temperature butter that I then rub all over the inside of the pan using a paper towel. Feel free to use whatever method makes you happy.
  7. Pour the batter into the buttered loaf pan.
  8. Put the loaf pan on the sheet pan and leave in the oven for about an hour.
  9. After 30 minutes, rotate the loaf pan 180º.
  10. After 60 minutes is up, insert a toothpick or wooden skewer (I prefer a skewer since it makes it harder to burn oneself), if you can remove it without any goo sticking to the skewer (toothpick), the loaf is done.
  11. Put the loaf pan on the wire cooling rack for about 10 minutes. You shouldn’t mess with it until you can touch the loaf pan for about 10 seconds without thinking about screaming.
  12. Once the loaf pan is cool enough to handle, gently coax the loaf from the pan and place it back on the cooling rack. This is the most perilous part of making banana bread. There is a chance that you may end up sitting at your kitchen counter realizing that you now have to eat this crumbled mass of delicious bananas bread without being caught. I have considered the idea of making a banana bread pudding … next time I screw up … yes, it’s inevitable.
  13. At this point, you are done. If you’re not going to sit down and eat the whole thing in one go (uh …), it can sit on the counter wrapped in cling film/foil/parchment (fancy!) for about 4 days. You can keep it around a bit longer by popping it in the fridge. In theory, it could also be frozen but not if you actually possess a soul.