James Beard’s Light and Flavorful Banana Bread
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, my Maybelle was still my Maybelle. She was my baby. Now, she is 20 months and 15 days old, and goes by her sassy self-dubbed moniker, M’Elle. Back in March 17 of 2013, she was a mere eight weeks old, barely holding her head up, then only unintentionally spitting on her daddo.
On the weekend of her eighth week, we invited our NCT class over to our flat in Oxford. For all my American friends, NCT is a UK charity that holds birth classes for small groups of parents who are expecting a baby in the same birth month. What’s wonderful about this class is that it almost always turns into a group of friends who frequently get together to commiserate. The weekend everyone came over was the first time all the babies were together ex utero, and there was a whole lot of cuteness in one room.
That afternoon was more than just about lining up a bunch of cute little newborns on the floor, all of whom were uncontrollably flailing their disproportionately short limbs. We were sharing stories about poop, lack of sleep, and helpful/unhelpful relatives; diapers were changed; boobs were out. We were no longer just acquaintances.
Whenever we go through a major life event, be it moving to a new city, going through a major breakup, losing a job, or buying a house, we discover we are in the company of many others who have done the same. Our experiences are unique, of course, but that doesn’t, and shouldn’t, get in the way of recognizing each other’s experience with empathy.
Often times, sharing in those experiences means gelling it all together with a table full of biscuits, cake, and tea. It’s my preferred way, anyway. And on that afternoon, my contribution was a banana bread as instructed by James Beard.
What are we going to do this weekend? Probably try to keep the tantrums and tears to a minimum, and that applies to every person in our household. Definitely look at our older child and be amazed by how much she has changed, and wonder what our youngest child will be like 18 months from now. Hopefully we will have some good friends over, so we can remind each other why we are doing all of this in the first place.
Happy weekending, everyone.
Banana Bread, adapted from Beard on Bread
Time: Prep: 15 minutes; Baking time: 1 hour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter (vegetable oil is okay too)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
⅓ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ tablespoon turbinado sugar
- Combine ⅓ cup whole milk and 1 teaspoon lemon juice, which will curdle a bit as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Sift 2 cups all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Cream ½ cup butter and gradually add in ½ cup granulated sugar and ½ cup light brown sugar. Mix well.
- Add 2 eggs and 1 cup mashed ripe bananas and blend thoroughly.
- Slowly and alternately fold in the flour mixture and the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir well after each addition.
- Stir in ½ cup chopped walnuts, reserving a small spoonful, then pour the batter into a parchment-lined (or buttered) 9 x 5 x 3-inch pan.
- Sprinkle the top of the batter with the spoonful of chopped walnuts and ½ tablespoon turbinado sugar.
- Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 1 hour, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched in the center.