Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Banana Bread

My father recently departed, visiting from the Caribbean. He doesn’t make it North very often anymore. In advance of his visit, we stocked up on the foods he likes: hard pears, red delicious apples, cantaloupe, sardines, hot chili peppers, Asian noodles, etc. And the thing he wanted to eat most that he couldn’t get at home in the Dominican? Fish balls, vacuum packed in plastic, purchased at local Chinese markets. He was very excited, and kept saying “Remember how much I like them? Remember how often I used to eat them?” Of course I didn’t. Frankly, I was a little surprised at their existence, never having noticed them myself in the same Chinese markets. He seemed disappointed that I lacked his enthusiasm and kept declining his offer to share (more for him, I reasoned…).

One of the other foods he likes and doesn’t get in the Dominican, is banana bread. Ovens are rare in the Caribbean (and who would want one in that heat?), and really, baking was never my father’s thing. The food he was really hoping for when he visited was apple pie and banana bread- the two things I completely forgot about.

My brother managed to round up nine over ripe bananas hanging around his apartment, and I made banana bread for all. I couldn’t imagine how we would get through three loaves- but we did. And my brother’s roommate didn’t even get any (he contributed many of the bananas). My dad took most of a loaf with him.

This is my mother’s recipe. I used to think banana bread was a dead easy recipe that everyone could and did make. Perhaps because of its popularity, many people do try to make banana bread, but it seems I hear of many unsolved issues related to banana bread baking. The one I hear most frequently is bread that doesn’t rise. My mother’s recipe uses both baking soda and baking powder, which is unusual among those who object to the lack of height in their own banana breads. So here is my mother’s, tall, moist, and good for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dessert.

Banana Bread
½ C vegetable oil
1 C sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 bananas, mashed
2 C all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 Tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla
½ C chopped walnuts or chocolate chips, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Beat vegetable oil and suagr together.
3. Add eggs and bananas, and mix well.
4. Sift together dry ingredients.
5. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk and vanilla.
6. Pour into a greased loaf pan.
7. Bake for 1 hour.

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