Even though my loving father died shortly past my tenth birthday, and that Dad was barely home – working tirelessly at his bakeries – in spite of this–his smiles and baking endeavors have resonate in me for decades. All aspects of baking flash before me, daily; they hound me to bake something, anything. I love that! I love whirling sugar and eggs together until nearly frothy in my shiny, red stand mixer for cakes, cookies and quick breads. To make bread as I combine yeast, flour, water and salt with my hands, seems wizardry; but yet feels earthy and refreshing. Over the last half century I’ve practiced these baking skills and continue to reap their rewards for myself, friends, family and guests I serve.
As a child I ate banana bread coated with layers of soft cream cheese–a great dessert combination, or it’s perfect for an afternoon snack for yourself or kids. Nowadays, checking the internet or cookbooks, banana bread explodes in kitchens with diverse ingredients such as chocolate, lemon, raisins, currents, and applesauce to name a few.
Enjoy my version!
STREUSEL TOPPING Serves 6-8
6 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 – 1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, melted, slightly cooled
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup mashed ripe bananas – 3 medium size or 2 large
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
STREUSEL TOPPING DIRECTIONS
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter, or use cooking spray on a 9-5-inch loaf pan; line with parchment, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the long side. In a medium bowl combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in butter, nuts and chocolate chips, until small clumps form, and the mixture is well-moistened.
1 In a large bowl mix flour baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. set aside. In another bowl mix butter, both sugars, eggs and vanilla. Stir in the bananas and the buttermilk.
2 In the flour bowl, gradually add the above mixture. Stir until combined. Do not overmix. Spoon about half of the batter in the bottom of the pan. No need to measure exactly. Shake the pan slightly so it settles evenly. Add half the streusel topping, patting it in gently and evenly. Add the rest of the batter, then top with t he remainder of the streusel.
3 Bake until nearly golden, for 1 hour and fifteen or twenty minutes, and a tester comes out clean, ignoring bits of melted chocolate. (If top is browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.) Let the bread cool in the pan for 20 minutes, remove carefully with parchment handles to a cooling rack.
TIPS AND TWEAKS
- Leave out the chocolate chips, or replace with butterscotch chips for the streusel.
- Add some of the optional ingredients I mention above in the cake. Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind at step 1. , or at step 2 add 1/2 cup raisins, currents or one quarter to one half cup shredded unsweetened coconut.