We shouldn't be talking about banana bread this time of year. It's spring! Or summer?! Whatever you name it, there are strawberries and loquats and even blueberries (!) in all the corners of my kitchen. We especially shouldn't talk about banana bread all spiced like it's October. Maple? Cinnamon? Cardamom? But we are.
I am taking Emily's advice and proclaiming this banana bread - with maple and a spiced sugar crust - summer-ready. Iced coffee. Berries. Maple banana bread. Thanks, indeed.
This banana bread is the best kind of quickbread. It comes together as it should: easily, in just a few minutes. It bakes for a long time - long enough for a shower and a couple of stovetop endeavors like candying pumpkin seeds and cooking up a pot of lentils. A good thing when time is crunched. And though the crusty top is obviously its crustiest best the first day, it softens into a complex, dignified, stable softness with age.
But that isn't all. I found this recipe way back in Molly Wizenberg's archives - from from 2008. Time it has been resurrected into the light. It originally had everything to do with honey, but I have a little crush on bananas and maple, and the rest is history.
In all truth my maple tweak is not all that different from the original, just like any banana bread tweak is not all that different from your mother's. But somehow the depth of the maple joins in with the spiced sugar top and the bread becomes rucked and fissured with sugar and spice, and it's all I can do to keep from rhyming.
I'll be back soon - to tell more about the tea and some other baking I've been up to. There's so much goodness these days. As always. I hope we all take a moment to revel. Happy Saturday, folks.
Maple Banana Bread with Spiced Sugar CrustTake note that the bread batter should be pretty loose. And about the slice bananas on top: The first day they are soft, but they firm up and candy over the hours and days. I like it. The Beloved does not. They are totally optional.
Adapted from Orangette who adapted from Bakesale Betty
and Bon Appétit, September 2008. (I love culinary family trees!)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (2-3 medium bananas)
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 ½ Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
1 whole banana, for the top (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a small (8 ½- x 4 ½-inch) loaf pan, then line with parchment and butter that, too.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, stir together the banana, eggs, oil, maple syrup, and water. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient - -all at once is fine - and stir well. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, then make the topping:
In a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients - I use my fingers. Slice the last banana, if using, and carefully lay the halves side-by-side on top. Sprinkle the sugar mix evenly over the batter and bananas. It will look like a lot. Just do it.
Bake the bread until a tester inserted into its center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then slide a thin knife around the edges to loosen, and carefully remove the bread from the pan, taking care not to dislodge the topping. Cool completely before slicing.
Serve plain or spread with butter or almond butter. Enjoy!