** Photos Updated November 23, 2009
I have been cooking up a storm here, and reveling in preparing even our nightly dinners! I have come to the realization that I love to cook, just for the sheer love of cooking. Of course, I love to eat the food, too, but why else would I volunteer to bake a cake for someone else's shower, when I'm not even attending? I guess that for me, it is an outlet; a place where I can relax and enjoy the process. Why not bake a strawberry cake, just for the love of it?
In addition to dinner preparation, and baking a random strawberry cake, I have been doing a lot of bread baking. I have tried several yeast breads and several quick breads. My recent baking "kick" has been banana bread (five loaves in two weeks, anybody?). My husband has patiently (okay, well really willingly) tried several different recipes and commented on each, and I think that I have found my perfect Banana Bread recipe. The first two loaves of this recipe went to my husband's Greek class for breakfast on Tuesday.
The key here is to adjust the recipe based on your likes. My mom's banana bread, which is wonderfully moist, and the basis for my recipe, does not contain any spices. I wanted my banana bread to have a little hint of Bananas Foster, so I included some cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. You can tweak it to your tastes as well. Also, make sure that your bananas are very ripe, with lots of dark spots. That will give this bread a stronger, sweeter banana flavor.
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
zest of one lemon
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon buttermilk (or an extra tablespoon sour cream)
1/2-3/4 cup pecans, chopped
Sift the first eight ingredients into a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars with a hand mixer. Add the eggs, one at the time. Add the vanilla, bourbon, zest and bananas and blend. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream and buttermilk, mixing on low speed until just combined.
Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl (and scrape any lemon zest that may be "holding on" to the mixer beaters. Using the spatula, fold in the pecans.