I don’t know about you, but Mr. Peacock has been going bananas from all of the mayhem going on in the world. I’ve put a moratorium on watching or reading any news...at least for this weekend. In the meantime, I’m going to make one of my favorite stress busters—banana bread.
As a child, I was hooked into the advertising campaign for Sara Lee baked goods, “…nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.” Sara Lee wasn’t on our grocery list, because my mom didn't buy many processed foods—we never had soda pop in our house. I kept asking my mom to let me try Sara Lee (those ads sure do work on kids). She finally relented, but the next dilemma was what product to try, since I’m allergic to all legumes (chocolate, nuts, coconut, et all). She noticed their Banana Cake and read the ingredients and it didn’t have any nuts, so she bought one. Mmmm, and I loved it…dense banana cake with a cream cheese frosting. I think I devoured the whole cake in a couple days. Maybe that's why I wore husky jeans at this age.
About a decade ago, I was feeling nostalgic and purchased a Sara Lee Banana Cake. What a disappointment! It was nothing like I remembered. It was actually disgusting—too sweet and really not much banana flavor. I guess my taste buds changed or the Sara Lee Corporation changed (cheapened) their recipe—probably both. And I don’t think they even make the Banana Cake anymore.
You can justify eating a slice of this Yummy Banana Bread because of the healthiness of the bananas and buckwheat flour—which you can purchase very inexpensively at a market that has a bulk section, like Rainbow Grocery or Whole Foods Market. I guess you could omit the buckwheat flour, but it really adds a unique flavor, nice texture and bit of color to the bread, which is what differentiates this recipe from your run of the mill banana breads. This bread tastes almost like my memory of the Sara Lee Banana Cake...only better!
Yummy Banana Bread
Makes 2 loaves—4.5” x 8.5”
Adapted from the wonderful cookbook, Brunch, featuring the recipes of the Five Points Restaurant in New York. Buy a copy here.
3-5 overripe bananas (about a cup of mashed bananas) save 1 banana (for the top)
½ cup buttermilk (I used lowfat)
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour, but you can use all purpose)
½ cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons of butter softened at room temperature (1 ½ sticks)
1½ cups sugar (I used a little less than that)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons raw sugar (for the top)
1) Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Butter and flour the bread pans, set aside until step #5.
2) Mash bananas in bowl with the back of a fork, it doesn’t have to be super smooth. You’ll want about a cup of banana. Make sure to save a banana for the top of the bread! Stir in the buttermilk with the mashed bananas and set aside.
3) Place flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix well.
4) In another larger bowl, cream the room temperature butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the vanilla and one egg at a time until well incorporated. Add half the dry ingredients and mix in. Add half the banana/buttermilk mixture and mix in. Repeat until everything is incorporated, but don’t over mix it!
5) Divide the batter and spoon equally into the 2 prepared bread pans. Smooth out the top of the batter. Peel the reserved banana and carefully slice lengthwise into about 5 thin slices. It’s okay if the slices break apart a bit. Divide the slices equally and place on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the raw sugar generously over the bananas.
6) Bake at 350 degrees on the middle rack of your oven for about 45 to 55 minutes, depending on your stove. Test for doneness—knife inserted into the middle of the loaf should come out clean. Let it cool for about an hour. This cake is best at room temperature and will keep a day or two.
The raw sugar sprinkled on the banana becomes caramelized during the baking process and adds a rich banana flavor to the moist and dense crumb of this Yummy Banana Bread. Use the least ripest banana for the top, because it will be easier to thinly slice, and use the darkest skinned (the darker the skin, the deeper the banana flavor) bananas for the batter. Remember it makes 2 small loaves, so you can enjoy one now and freeze one for later. Make a batch of this Yummy Banana Bread this weekend. Enjoy!