Thursday, May 2, 2013

book it and cook it - puny's banana bread (a no-sinker!)

It had been a week since Puny Bradshaw had rung [Father Tim's] doorbell at precisely eight o'clock in the morning and started taking over his house... "Don't mind me," she said, seeing that he minded very much.  "My granpaw was a preacher, and I waited on 'im hand and foot for years, so you might say I'm cut out for this job..."  

When he arrived home that afternoon at 5:30, he found a steaming, but spotless, kitchen and a red-cheeked Puny.  "That bushel of tomatoes like to killed me!" she declared.  "After I froze that big load of squash, I found some jars in your garage, sterilized 'em in your soup pot, and canned ever' one in th' bushel.  Looky here," she said, proudly, pointing to fourteen Mason jars containing vermillion tomatoes.  "Puny," he exclaimed with joyful amazement, "this is a sight for sore eyes."
(excerpt from At Home in Mitford)

Endearing, that Puny is.  I appreciate her spunk, her work ethic, and her cooking.  A maid of all trades, if you will, Puny comes into Father Tim's life to help him organize it.  Little does he know the best cookin' and a huge heart of gold comes along with her.  Reading through the pages for the umpteenth time, I feel like I've eaten the very food she's prepared the rector in his warm and cozy parsonage.  It's so fun to actually have real recipes that belong to her.  The compilation of this one, and many others, can be found in the Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader.  

I have not had banana bread in ages.  With a few bananas getting more than slightly brown on my counter, I decided to throw them into this recipe for a sweet treat.  I love this particular one more than any I've tried, because it doesn't sink in the middle.  It's a beautiful loaf with a slightly caramelized edge.  Perfection.

I've taken a couple extra pictures to show you what to look for, so that your end result is as good as it can be.  For about two seconds, I thought about altering the recipe... maybe a few toasted walnuts or less sugar... so thankful I didn't.  For rich and moist, beautiful slices, follow this one just as stated.  Without a doubt, you'll be pleased you did Puny proud!

When baking quick breads or pastries, I usually prefer a lighter colored aluminum pan.  The darker versions tend to brown the outside before the rest is cooked through

For a caramelized "crust," and to ensure doneness, remove from oven once toothpick comes out clean AND the sides have pulled away from the pan.  You can see the slight gap around the edges.    

Puny's Banana Bread - makes one loaf
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 large very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
  • 1 1/2 cups White Lily all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
~ Cream the oil and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and creamy.
~ Beat in the eggs.
~ Add the bananas and mix well.
~ In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  
~ Add 1 cup of the flour mixture to the banana mixture, mix well, then add half of the
    buttermilk and mix well. 
~ Add the remaining flour, and then the buttermilk and mix just until blended.
~ Pour the batter into the  pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes, or until 
    toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread.
~ Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire cooling rack.

Tips and Tricks
Although my bread comes out fairly easily, you could cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of your pan and spray as instructed.  That would take away any chance of the bread breaking as it's releasing from the pan.

My bread is never done at 45 minutes.  I tent the pan with a piece of aluminum foil beginning at 45 minutes to prevent over-browning, and it usually is just right at one hour.  You can check in five-minute intervals.

Recipe from the Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader