Sure, bananas are sweet enough to stand alone.
And banana bread has always been mild-mannered and unassuming; sometimes playing the part of a pseudo-breakfast for the pastry-inclined, other times accompanying a coffee in the late afternoon and even standing in for dessert. And why not? It’s sweet and almost never dry. Its flavors are simple and straightforward. Nuts or speckles of semisweet chocolate, maybe a hint of vanilla…
But it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t tell you that my favorite banana recipe lately involves BOOZE.
It may or may not make you rethink your banana-bread-for-breakfast-bent, but it sure as heck should keep you dreaming sips of Caribbean cocktails in this impatient early-spring daze.
You see, I saw the first of the spring forsythia the other day and well, yellow forsythia, cue yellow (turned black and brown) bananas… Poetic pairing, isn’t it?
- 1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cups coarsely mashed very ripe bananas (3-4 medium)
- 2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or sour cream, or yogurt mixed with a bit of heavy cream)
- 1-2 tablespoons rum
- 1 tablespoon orange zest, grated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a (9- by 5- by 3-inch) loaf pan, then dust with flour.
In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
In a small bowl, mash bananas with a fork or pastry blender and stir in 1 tablespoon rum. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric or hand mixer, beat together eggs and sugar at medium-high speed for 5-6 minutes, or until very thick and pale and egg mixture falls back on itself in a ribbon, disappearing into the bowl slowly when the beater is lifted. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly begin adding oil to the egg mixture, beating all along. Stir in crème fraîche and vanilla. Then gently fold in banana mash and the flour mixture.
Pour batter into prepared pan, making sure to spread it evenly. Sprinkle top of batter with toasted walnuts, pressing them gently into batter so that they adhere. Bake banana loaf until golden brown and a skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Cool loaf in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then gently remove from pan and transfer to rack to cool completely.
Serve warm or at room temperature.