For no apparent reason, I’ve been in the mood for banana bread.  I’d been putting it off until I went to the grocery store this weekend, where I found a bunch of 5 overripe bananas marked down to $.69.  I couldn’t pass them up, so they came home with me.

I have a really good banana bread recipe, with coconut and lime, but I didn’t really want something quite that complicated.  I’m not sure where this recipe came from originally – it’s one of those recipes that lurks in the depths of my recipe database.

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I always cheat, and instead of mashing bananas by hand, I just toss them in the stand mixer for a few minutes. After they were sufficiently “mashed”, I took them out of the bowl, then creamed the butter and brown sugar, then added two eggs and put the bananas back in.

I never bother putting dry ingredients in a separate bowl – I just use a bigger measuring cup, and mix them in there.  In this case, I put the 2 cups of flour in my 4-cup measuring cup, and there was plenty of room to mix in the baking soda and salt.  I added a dash of cinnamon to the dry ingredients, but it wasn’t in the recipe.

The dry ingredients went on top of the wet ingredients and got mixed very lightly.  If you wanted nuts, you could add them here, but I didn’t have any.

Then the batter went in a greased loaf pan and baked for an hour.

This is one of the most banana-y banana bread recipes I’ve ever had.  The texture is perfect:

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Not every recipe has to be complicated. Sometimes the simple things are perfect just the way they are.

( see the recipe )

Banana Bread Pudding

We had invitations for a spring brunch on Sunday, and I’d offered to bring dessert, and I just wasn’t feeling inspired. Chocolate didn’t seem like a brunch thing, it’s too early for really great fruit yet, and I’ve made way too many citrus-based desserts lately.

The internet wasn’t helping much – it’s great for finding a recipe, but not so good at answering “What do I want to make?”. I found lots of coffeecakes (and I might go back and make some later), but coffeecake seemed too much like breakfast and not enough like brunch.

So I curled up on the couch with a pile of cookbooks, and finally decided on the Banana Bread Pudding from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. It was fruity, it didn’t have any lemon in it, and I could do 95% of it the night before. And, no, it is not made with banana bread.

I didn’t follow the recipe exactly as printed. I thought a caramel sauce would be better then the hot fudge. Also, Brioche is hard to find in grocery stores around here, and challah seemed to be a reasonable substitute. Egg-rich breads always seem to work particularly well for egg-based recipes, like bread pudding or French toast.

I sliced the bread, brushed it with butter, tossed it in the cinnamon and sugar, and toasted it. I should have been more generous with the butter – the sugar didn’t stick to the bread as well as I’d hoped, but I’d already made a mess before I realized what was wrong.

While the bread cooled, I made the custard, tossed in the bread (and dumped in the cinnamon and sugar that had fallen off), and poured it all into my 13×9, where it sat in the fridge overnight.

I also made a caramel sauce the night before, which was a bit of a mistake – the cooling and reheating process allowed the sugar to crystallize, making it very slightly gritty. Next time, I’ll make it and just keep it warm.

The next morning, I baked the bread pudding, and packed it up with the caramel, the toasted nuts, and the other 3 bananas that I’d bought but not put in the custard. The bread pudding reheated wonderfully, the caramel sauce a bit less so, but it was still good. I sliced up the bananas, and let people assemble their own plates so they could vary the toppings as they wanted.

It was very good. I’d certainly make it again – I’m always looking for dessert recipes that travel well, and this had just the right mix of familiar and different.

( see the recipe )