Saturday, May 9, 2015

All I can do

I'm off this morning to play kitchen faery for that Mother's Day Tea that went so well and good last year. And even though I've spent the better part of three days flitting about over wee sweet treats, I wanted to take this lovely loaf for us all to nibble on while we worked today. And I wanted to share it with you, too, while it was still fresh. A little thanks. A little pause. A little sustenance.

Banana bread with berries and coffee

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.

Banana bread with berries and coffee overhead

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.

Sliced banana bread with loaf

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 Crust

Take 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 App├ętit, September 2008. (I love culinary family trees!)

For bread:
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

For topping:
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!


  1. So how did the tea go? Inquiring minds want to know...

    1. And I am so thankful for inquiring minds. It went splendidly! And they ate up the bread. :)