Ideas Personal

A lifelong Quest

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
A lifelong Quest

On a Quest

I never realized until recently that I have been on a 20 year quest.  Searching and hunting

for the perfect banana bread  that I found in the Florida Keys years ago.  Now this

is not the dried out version from my childhood or the boxed grocery store version with

chewy walnuts.  Not the one from the health food store where they’re always trying to hide

wheat germ in every bite.  Not even the version with miniature chocolate chips which is

even hard for me to believe.  No I’ve been on a quest for the banana bread I stumbled upon

over 20 years ago in a tiny bakery deep in the Florida Keys.

I was out for an early morning walk hoping I wouldn’t run into any snakes, alligators, or wild

dogs (in no particular order).  I turned a corner and saw this tiny little bakery.  I thought it

was time for a cup of coffee and decided to stop in.  Upon entering, the aroma of bananas

filled the air and all I kept  thinking about was my grandmother’s kitchen when she baked

banana bread from really over ripe bananas.  So off I went to finish my walk with the most

delicious slice of heaven I have ever tasted.  I vowed then and there that I had to have the

recipe.  Well needless to say, Old Lucille from the tiny bakery, would not give up her money

making banana bread recipe.  “No worries”, I thought, I’ll just look through all my cookbooks

at home.  Well, that was over 20 years ago and countless tries at trying to repeat perfection.

Looking through all the cookbooks at Barnes & Noble, talking to fellow bakers and even

a few professional pastry chefs,  every darn recipe I ever tried was never as good at the

bread I had from Old Lucille.

I was starting to think it was  just part of my imagination because I was just so hungry.

Until now.  I think, at long last, that I have finally found the best banana bread recipe around.

I just didn’t know that I had to be a mad scientist to make it?  Strangely enough, I found this

recipe in a 20th anniversary issue of The Best Recipes of all time from Cook’s Illustrated.

I wonder if they’ve been trying to copy Old Lucille’s recipe in the Florida Keys too?  Here it

is my friends and don’t forget to use really ripe bananas and make enough to share or send

to your favorite college student for finals week.

Ultimate Banana Bread

1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 very ripe bananas, peeled (almost black)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse (optional)

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray loaf pan.  Whisk four, baking soda, and

salt together in large bowl.

Place 5 ripe bananas in glass bowl covered.  Microwave until bananas are

soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes.  Be sure to cover.  Transfer

bananas to fine mesh strainer over a bowl and allow to drain, stirring

occasionally, for about 15 minutes ( you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup of liquid ).

Transfer liquid to saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to

1/4 cup, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas,

and mash with potato masher until mostly smooth.  Whisk in butter, eggs, brown

sugar, and vanilla.

Pour banana mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined, with some

streaks of flour remaing.  Gently fold in walnuts, if you are using.  Scrape batter

into prepared pan.  May slice banana on top (optional) down each side of pan.

Sprinkle top with sugar.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf pan comes out clean.  Be sure to go

all the way down the center.  Bake about 55 minutes ot an hour and 15 minutes.

Cover with foil if the top is getting too dark.

Let cool for 15 minutes befor turning out onto a wire rack.  Let cool for 1 hour before

serving.  May serve with butter.

For all of you banana bread lovers out there – Let me know what you think!

“What the world needs now is love sweet love or just a really good slice of homemade

banana bread oozing in butter”  Enjoy! Heidi

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