It seemed like my banana bread was doomed from the beginning. Even buying the walnuts that the recipe required was an ordeal -- I had to endure two VERY old men hitting on me in the checkout line as I was drenched in pungent sweat from a recent run. But it was when I picked up my mother's old white mixing bowl with grooves set in from 15 years of making sweet potato pies and 7 up cakes -- the same bowl we used to dip our fingers in when she wasn't looking -- that I felt at home. Safe even.
The banana bread wasn't supposed to be anything special, just a quick weekday solution to a bunch of overripe fruit on the table. The bananas had developed their darling spots by this point, the little ones that let you know the sugar is here. But I guess even my banana bread -- the steady and practical gal amongst sexier bundts -- had to have her day in the sun.
When mixing the butter, I forgot a chunk of it on the table, then wondered why my sugar and butter combo was so lumpy. I solved it by guestimating how much butter was already in there. I only learned later that I used way too much.
The buttermilk in the fridge had become cheese, so I had to use milk instead.
I put in too much vanilla flavoring, which gave the batter a somewhat alcohol-like flavor. I cut it with nutmeg.
And I almost burned the entire thing because I was on the phone.
The result, however, was a buttery and fluffy conconction with a delicious muffin top crunch. It was gone by the morning, due to a family of serious eaters.
Despite the fact that it was a total screw up by Betty Crocker's standards, I was proud to have found my own way through a classic.
Take that, Betty.
(adapted from "Betty Crocker's Cookbook")
3 medium (seriously) ripe bananas
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2-3 tsps. of vanilla
A half a tsp. of nutmeg
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts
1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, or one loaf pan, 9 x 5 x 3 inches, with shortening. (I use a bundt pan, and it comes out just lovely.)
2. Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Stir in bananas, milk and vanilla, beat until smooth. Add nutmeg. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Divide batter evenly between pans.
3. Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Mine was a bit too done at 50 minutes, so watch your oven temperature.
Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire rack.
4. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.