9.21.2014

multigrain banana bread

multigrain banana bread in thrifted clay Copco loaf pan

When woken up at 7:30 AM on the third Saturday in a row by the sound of the earth movers next door, you can either pull a pillow over your head and fume or get up and start cooking brunch. I had four extra-ripe bananas needing processing and a huge potato a friend had given me, so I made a baked omelet and a loaf of banana bread, while listening to my favorite French jazz station. Baking sweet bread with the windows closed on a hot late-summer day is at least better than the alternative (doing nothing, going hungry, letting fruit flies feast on the bananas).

This is my family's banana bread recipe passed down from my grandmother to my mother to me but originating from the now-defunct Windham County Hotel and Jail in Newfane, Vermont. One blogger, Lisa of Aunt Lil's Kitchen, found it in a vintage recipe book from the 1950's but says the finished product tastes like baking soda. My own criticism of the bread is that the crumb tends to be a bit gummy. But I like its history and simplicity and that if I happen to find myself with a few overripe bananas, I always have the other ingredients on hand. Plus, it only requires about half the oil or butter of typical sweet breads—though admittedly I tend to spread butter on the end product, which I don't need to do with my well oiled zucchini bread.


mixed whole-wheat, soy, brown rice, & buckwheat flours for banana bread

Since I snapped a (rather dark) shot of the recipe card itself (see below), I'm not going to type it up again here. But I do adapt the recipe by using whole-wheat pastry flour instead of white flour—which may account for some of the gummy-ness. For this particular batch, I mixed whole-wheat flour, soy flour, brown rice flour, and buckwheat flour since they've been sitting in canning jars in my freezer for a couple of years now and need to be cleared out. I also used four bananas in this one (because I had four) and always use unprocessed (Turbinado/raw) sugar. Sweet bread recipes are generally pretty forgiving. (Do note that if using a clay loaf pan, the baking time extends by at least 15 minutes. Keep checking every five minutes or so until the knife or toothpick comes out clean from the center. Baking time will, of course, shorten if making mini-loaves or muffins.)


Windham County Hotel & Jail Banana Bread recipe

Do you have a better banana bread recipe? This one from Martha Stewart, which I haven't tried yet, has great reviews but requires sour cream, as well as creaming the butter and sugar, making it less simple than the Windham recipe, which only needs light stirring. In researching, I also found a blogger, Christine of Apartment 46, who claims she has a banana bread better than Martha Stewart's; funnily enough, her recipe is quite similar to the Windham County Hotel/Jail recipe, only with a little more sugar, a lot more salt, less flour, and no dissolution of the baking soda in water. Anybody care to weigh in?

The real point of all this? If you find yourself stuck with a few saggy brown bananas, great! They're sweeter that way. Now go make some banana bread.

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