We got 28.5 inches of snow here in Philadelphia over the last 24 hours. I bought oranges, lemons and grapefruit yesterday before the storm hit, thinking that I might take advantage of the snow day and make a batch of mixed citrus marmalade.
Instead, I embraced the slowness of the snow and rambled through the day. I walked over to my cousins’ house and spent a couple of hours helping celebrate Derek’s third birthday. Back at home, I did some dishes and organized canning jars (I invest more time in this particular endeavor than I care to admit). For dinner, I quickly cooked some broccoli and reheated the rest of the chicken pot pie I made on Thursday night. And I transformed some seriously blackened bananas into Maple-Banana Bread.
I’d been watching these bananas get progressively blacker and less appealing for most of the week. Each time I made dinner, I’d move them from one counter top and then back again, always mentally promising them that I’d use them before they were beyond salvation. Today, with the snow and general coziness, baking just felt like the obvious choice.
I used to be devoted to the banana bread recipe in the late sixties edition of The Joy of Cooking (when left to its own devices, my mother’s copy opens right to that recipe). However, over the years I’ve tweaked it so thoroughly, that it’s hardly related to the original. This version lives on an index card in my kitchen, tucked between the radio and my kitchen scale. Made with whole wheat pastry flour, wheat germ and maple syrup, it manages to be tender and not too sweet (perfect with a dab of apple or pear butter!).
So gather your aging bananas and bake up a batch this weekend!
- 4 tablespoons softened butter (that’s half a stick)
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (that’s 2-3 bananas)
- 1/2 teaspoon of maple extract (it boosts the flavor of the syrup. If you don’t have any, just use a splash of vanilla instead)
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- Preheat over to 350 degrees and butter a standard sized loaf pan.
- Beat the butter, maple syrup, egg, banana and vanilla together (it will be a lumpy slurry). In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Add them to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Add the pecans and mix until they’re integrated. Scrape the batter into the greased loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Use a skewer or toothpick to test for doneness.
- Eat warm from the pan. On the second day, it is best briefly toasted and buttered.