Baby’s Banana Bread

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I tend to overthink things. Well, as I’m sure was predicted by many, it took me ages to pick something to begin with on here. My first recipe! On my first food blog! I agonized over this decision. I’m big on tradition and celebrations, as anyone who has met me knows. I’m the girl who makes the same birthday cake every year for birthdays (because it’s the BIRTHDAY cake) and has an unflinching allegiance to the same Thanksgiving menu (cranberry sauce like THIS, not like that). In a world that changes and grows and zips along so merrily, so quickly, I do find it comforting to put stock in traditions. Gigo’s meatballs, Daddy’s scrambled eggs, Nonna’s plum pudding. These are recipes I cherish, brought into my life by people I cherish: and I definitely want to pass on some of my own recipes someday. Because I take all this cooking stuff so seriously, I knew I had to choose something for my FIRST recipe that was cherishable. Something I could look back on and be proud to say was my best work.

What if everyone everywhere hates it?

I also knew I wanted to start with something simple. I toyed with a couple of soup ideas (which will be making their way up here soon, I’m sure) and seriously considered inventing something entirely new (um, disaster). But in the end, I went with something entirely familiar, steeped in multiple family’s traditions, and oh-so-delicious: Banana Bread.


This is one little number that everyone’s tried. A quick, easy way to use up just-a-bit-too-soft produce, and a flavor profile that every member of a household will probably enjoy. It’s definitely one of my favorites, and it comes together super fast. I’m usually done with the batter by the time the oven’s preheated. This version borrows its additions from a couple sources: Mark Bittman for the coconut, and Nancy Rimar-Howard for the dried cherries. I love the chewy tropical goodness of the coconut, and the little pops of tart cherries against the dense sweetness of the bread.

My version gets its name from a combination of flavors I loved as a baby: plain yogurt and, you guessed it, banana. The yogurt makes the bread extra dense and moist, and adds another depth of tartness. Freaking delicious. And with a whole stick of butter (oh, baby), it’s also decadent as all get-out. I love eating sweet things (oh, really?) and so this baby has a bit more sugar than most–even a little crust of turbinado sugar on top for a bit of crunch–but for god’s sake it’s good. It’s even better toasted the next day–if it lasts that long.

Baby’s Banana Bread

Note: Find Mark Bittman’s version here. You’ll notice I omitted the wheat flour, which you can add back in if you like. Experiment and make it your own; that’s the best part!

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature + 1 tablespoon for greasing the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork until smooth
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes
A splash of milk (if needed)
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Equipment:

A 9 x 5 inch loaf pan

Method:

1. Place your oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease your pan one of two ways: melt the butter and brush it onto the inside of the pan, or (my favorite) spread it all over with your fingers (or a paper towel). Make sure you get it into the corners.

2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl; set aside.

3. Cream the butter in another bowl, and then beat in the eggs, bananas, and yogurt. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients; stir just enough to combine. The batter will be lumpy, even goopy; that’s good. If it seems dry, add a splash of milk. Gently stir in the vanilla, cherries, and coconut.

4. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle with about a teaspoon of turbinado sugar, if using. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until nicely browned. A toothpick inserted in the center of the bread will come out fairly clean, but we all know banana bread is better when it’s underdone. Err on the side of almost-there. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. To store, wrap in waxed paper.

{images: carol catherine and iwouldcoach.com}

10 comments
  1. Chad said:

    Mmm. I need to live closer to people who will bake for me.

    • i bet this banana bread would ship pretty well….

      • Chad said:

        My bday is Saturday .

      • Chad said:

        wink wink

  2. Marrria said:

    Hey C. I’m so proud of you! I am glad you have decided to take on blogging. I think about it often, but no one wants to read poetry and my version of cooking is laughable. Part of this is a result of suddenly taking up half-time residence with a man who is vegan. I got out of work the other day, went to my local co-op and selected a fine assortment of foods: a beautiful fresh tomato, lemon, fresh hydroponic local basil, broccolini, raw cashews and fancy black pepper linguini from a local company. Boy was I excited to make a light and lovely vegan meal for my baby. Of course, the noodles were not vegan. And he was in a bad mood. So I got high and angrily threw everything in a pot and let it cook. This is how I work. I just “let it cook”. And usually I’m in a bad mood by the time I start “letting it cook”, so everything I make is tainted with frustration and laziness.

    Where was I going with this? Oh yes. I am glad I now have your blog to inspire me, though economic and time factors prohibit my doing much of anything these days beyond feeding my dog, figuring out what to wear to my fancy Receptionist job, figuring out what to pack for lunch and doing so grudgingly. I love to eat, C. Don’t get me wrong. I just find cooking to be a big drag when I’m doing it for myself and no one else. I’m glad you have a man who appreciates your pace and what you prepare. And I’m glad you know why you do it, because it fulfills you. It always has. I fondly remember dinner parties at the Third Street apartment and watching the love you put into each dish. Maybe you should start a little cooking school. And please, go easy on those of us with no talent.

  3. Maria, you are completely wonderful! I totally feel you on the vegan thing. I did a vegan “cleanse” last january and it was really surprising how difficult it was to improvise with such a limited diet. It shouldn’t be that hard (or expensive) to eat beautiful, fresh food.

    Letting it cook could be the start of something beautiful. It is only my anal-retentiveness that keeps me obsessively checking my dishes every five seconds to make sure they’re…what? Still cooking? Still physically there? I need to take more of your advice and just let things cook more often.

    Thanks for the little hint there at the end–my next recipe will be as easy as 1, 2, 3. 🙂 xo

  4. Marrria said:

    I predict someday you will have your own band (Carol in the lead!) called The Ingredients.

    So, here’s a bit more on my predicament. I really don’t mind cooking, especially for someone else. But when it comes to making food for myself I am plagued by disinterest. I hope you’ll consider adding some of your favorite easy one-person meals.

    • challenge accepted, miss maria. i will think up some good single serving meals! also, will you be in my band?

  5. Alison said:

    Hi Carol! I type this as I finish the very last piece of banana bread from this recipe, which was absolutely delicious. Margaret and I had great fun in elementary school together and some of the best moments were over at your house, admiring Lily from a safe distance and attempting to create the perfect raspberry muffin recipe. From time to time we wound up in your room for whatever reason and I was forever in awe of all those Beatles and U2 posters, and so many other bands too! This blog has been wonderful to read (baby’s banana bread was fantastic; can’t wait to try others), and it’s even more special to read about your family’s traditions–recognizing the names and being able to picture the kitchen makes every story you share more heartwarming. I can’t wait to see where you go with this!

    • what a small world!! thank you for these memories…of course i recall those days as well (although sadly i think i missed my opportunity to be a taste-tester of perfect raspberry muffins!). what a special thing it is to connect like this through a (mostly) impersonal medium. keep baking and thank you so, so much for reminiscing a bit. “admiring lily from a safe distance”…haha!!!

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