My husband and I have a bit of an ongoing battle wherein he buys fruit that he doesn’t eat so it spoils, with the result that I find myself frequently objecting to his buying fruit — which of course seems a bit odd for someone interested in real food, right?
On the “good news” front, I am making some headway with the idea of focusing on buying fruit that’s in season (ideally in season here in Utah, not somewhere halfway around the world!) although since that pretty much limits fruit to the few summer months, I’m not likely to ever win that one completely. But we keep trying.
In the meantime, the battle rages on which resulted today in my baking banana bread with the three bananas he bought about a week ago (longer than that?) which were still sitting, untouched, on the kitchen counter getting blacker and blacker.
So I looked up recipes for banana bread and found this one at AllRecipes.com so ended up using it as a starting point. Usually I read (sometimes obsessively, I’ll admit) the reviews — although I think even my obsessiveness wouldn’t get through all 8,202 of them — but somehow this time I just saw the high number of good reviews and decided to jump on into it without actually reading any.
Which is why I made banana-pumpkin bread, not “Banana Banana Bread” as the original recipe was titled. Had I read the reviews, I would have realized that our measly three over-ripe bananas wouldn’t produce anywhere near the 2-1/3 cups of mashed banana that the recipe called for. (Obviously the size of your bananas will factor in, but most people — since I did read a bunch of reviews after the fact — reported using anywhere from 5 to 8 bananas!)
So I ended up using a cup of my homemade pumpkin puree to make up the difference which worked out fine. And I didn’t have brown sugar (nor would I be likely to since what little sugar I buy is usually raw and/or organic) but I know that “brown sugar” is usually really just white sugar with molasses added, I just added a smidge of molasses to my organic cane sugar.
And vanilla seemed to be notably missing from the recipe, so I added about a half-capful of that, along with several drops of orange essential oil and a sprinkling of ground allspice and nutmeg. Then, after I realized that part of the sweetness would be coming from the super-sweet, over-ripe bananas, my pumpkin substitution might cause it not to be sweet-tasting enough, so in the end I drizzled a little more molasses into the batter. (It probably was no more than a tablespoon, if that much, but the end result tastes great, so it must have been just about right.)
And for my last recipe alteration, I couldn’t for the life of me find my regular loaf pan, but luckily had recently bought some mini-pans (intending, in fact, to make pumpkin bread) so I used four of those. That, in turn, meant guessing about the timing, but my 45 minute “guess” seemed to work out.
So — what was my final “recipe”?
Preheat oven to 350°
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl: 2 cups flour (I used white whole wheat), 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt (I used our own Utah “RealSalt”).
Cream 1/2 cup butter (softened would have worked better, I’m sure, but mine was straight out of the fridge so I used my stand mixer to beat it into submission, literally) with 3/4 cup sugar and a drizzle of molasses. Since I added another good drizzle at the end, I’d say maybe up to 2 tablespoons total.
(I should also note that we use Amish rolled butter, which comes in 2-pound hand-shaped logs which we then hack up into rough slices to put in our butter bowl as needed. So measuring butter for a recipe is a very loosey-goosey affair. I took one of the slices we make and sort-of lightly squished it into a half-cup measure and it looked somewhat like it would have filled that, so that’s what I used. The point being that the precise measurement doesn’t seem to be all that critical, within probably a tablespoon or so. So, for instance, if you had almost a whole stick of butter on hand, that would probably work just fine.)
Add 1/2 capful vanilla (mine is a big bottle from Costco, so it’s got a fairly big cap — maybe I used 1/2 teaspoon, although I can hardly see you going wrong with up to a teaspoonful), 3 drops orange essential oil (totally optional, but definitely adds a nice flavor), 2 eggs, and a sprinkle each of ground nutmeg and ground allspice. Reading the reviews (afterwards!) I see that lots of folks use up to 1 teaspoon of spices like those, or cinnamon, and I would think ginger would be great, so all things to try in the future!
Mix in a total of 2-1/3 cup mashed fruit — I used 3 bananas which made about 1-1/3 cup, so made up the remaining 1 cup with pumpkin puree.
Take the creamed butter/sugar/fruit out of the stand mixer (if you used one) and mix in the dry ingredients by hand, adding about 1/4 at a time and stirring gently, just until moistened.
Pour into one standard 9 x 5 loaf pan (lightly greased) or 4 mini-pans. Put directly onto oven rack (middle to upper 2/3 of oven) and bake approximately 45 minutes for minis and 60 to 70 minutes for the larger pan. Test with toothpick to see that it comes out clean. Or, do what I did and go ahead and dump one of the loaves out immediately (a definite advantage of making the mini-loaves!) and cut it in half to be sure it’s done to your liking. Mine looked quite moist, but fully cooked so I decided to stick with the 45 minutes.
Of course, now that you’ve already cut into it rather than waiting for it to cool, it’s pretty much required that you cut yourself a slice (or three, but who’s counting), slather it with butter, and eat it hot. (Another plus for the minis — three slices feels indulgent but is actually not all that much food, so not too much guilt attached!)
I’m still working on my husband about buying fruit that goes to waste, but at least I’ve got the over-ripe banana scene covered!