Santa Maria is the one who fills the Stay at Stove Dad household with sweetness and light, to borrow and bend a phrase from Matthew Arnold. She does it in so many ways, but the relevant one here is through her baking. One of her stalwart sweets (perhaps only I could view a treat as hardworking) is Banana Bread.
I’ll confess to sometimes buying too many of the ubiquitous fruit, in the hopes that some will get overripe before we can eat them. In which case, Santa Maria, given her proudly frugal upbringing, occasionally feels compelled to bake the bread. She started with a Bittman recipe, but quickly—and quite fantastically—made it her own. I think my mouth is watering just writing about the bread. It is that good.
And she’s a good one with words, too. For though I love bananas, Nina and Pinta have developed an almost comical aversion to them. They detest bananas, and I think their reaction is an early form of rebellion that I would consider healthy were it not for the fact that they are missing out on the potassium and other nutrients in the fruit. But Santa Maria knows how to convince them. “My girls both hate bananas, and although they understand clearly that there are bananas in the bread, they eat it with alacrity!" she says. "And they like that I call it, when talking with them, 'Golden Calypso Bread.'"
Banana Bread (a.k.a. Golden Calypso Bread)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 1 ¾ cup unbleached flour with germ
- 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (yum!!)
In a separate bowl, cream together:
- 7 Tablespoons butter (one short shy of a stick)
- 1/3 cup sugar (you can reduce it to ¼ cup)
Then add to butter mixture:
- 4 very ripe smallish bananas (that you’ve smooshed up with your hands. If this makes you squeamish, you can also use a fork, but it’s much quicker and pretty darn fun to squish squash smloompch. **Excellent activity for your kid helpers).
A note on buxom bananas: even organic bananas can vary widely in size from 7” to 12” and more. If you have the huge bananas, you are fine with three; for the smaller ones, 4 or even 5 will work.
- 2 eggs to the butter mixture.
Fold the flour mixture in quickly and gently into the egg/butter mixture (ie. Don’t overmix, you can still see some flour-y parts. If you do overmix, it activates the gluten and makes it tougher).
Bake for 30 minutes and check center for done-ness. The knife should be clean.
I bake this mixture in three standard size loaf pans (greased lightly w butter). You can make a thicker loaf, and divide it into just two loaf pans that will cook 45-60 minutes.
Serve topped with more butter on freshly sliced hot bread, drink with a glass (you’ve frosted in the freezer) of cold milk.
Note: It is especially nutritious if you add walnuts. Also, this bread freezes well and you can just slice off a piece or two and then toast it in a toaster on the ‘defrost’ setting. If you’ve used walnuts, they toast up very nicely.