A tree branch cracked and fell in our driveway last night, blocking us in our home until an arborist cleared the way. That left us with time to be creative and make something in the kitchen with what we had available. A small hand of bananas was starting to turn dark, an indicator that it’s prime time to make banana bread. We did not have any walnuts on hand, but a little streusel sprinkled over the top is a nice touch in their place. Any muffin is made better with streusel!
Makes 10 mini loafs
4 extra-ripe bananas
2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus 3/4 cup
1 cup of vanilla’d sugar, plus 3/4 cup
1/2 cup of softened butter, plus 1/4 cup and 1 tbs.
2 large eggs
1 tbs. of buttermilk
2 tsp. of cinnamon, divided in 1 tsp. and 1 tsp.
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of baking soda
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, and lightly spray a mini loaf tin with nonstick spray; a regular muffin pan is fine, too, but line it with paper cups. Prepare the streusel first by combining 3/4 cup of flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup and 1 tbs. of butter, and 1 tsp. of cinnamon. Mix with a fork or a hand mixer until lightly crumbly.
Mix the remaining flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda, sifting in a large bowl so that it’s evenly combined. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas extremely well so that there are no lumps. In another mixing bowl, with a hand mixer on speed 2, combine the remaining sugar and butter for about 2 minutes. Add 1 egg at a time with about 10 seconds in between, still mixing on speed 2. Add the buttermilk and vanilla extract, then mix for 3 more minutes until light and fluffy. Briskly mix in the mashed bananas, but don’t overmix at this point.
Add the sifted flour to the wet ingredients and, with a hand mixer no higher than speed 2, combine. With an ice cream scoop for easy distributing, fill the mini loafs about 3/4 full. Sprinkle streusel over the tops to your liking – each loaf could easily accommodate 2 tbs. to 1/4 cup of streusel. Loafs will require 28-32 minutes to bake, while muffins need 22 minutes. Let cool before depanning.
We live in a divided house. Zach likes bananas, and August does not. The sight of a very ripe banana makes August turn on her heels, but Zach promised that he could make something with them that she’d love. Granted, he let three bananas sit out just to get them to the right ripeness, but if you have bananas laying around that are almost to the point of no return, try this recipe. Banana bread is fairly standard, so appease the sweet tooth in your house with these crave-able cupcakes.
Makes 36 cupcakes
• For the cake:
3 cups of cake flour
2 1/4 cups of vanilla’d sugar (sugar that has been stored with a vanilla bean)
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 1/2 cups of very ripe, mashed bananas
3/4 cup of butter
2 tbs. of vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. of baking soda
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 3 cupcake tins with paper cupcake cups and spray with non-stick spray. Sift together the cake flour and baking soda.
Combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract with a paddle attachment in a KitchenAid stand mixer. Cream the butter for 2 minutes on speed 3, stop the machine, scrape down the sides, turn the machine back on to speed 4, and add 1 egg at a time with about 10 seconds in between. Once the mixture is light and fluffy, turn off the machine and alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk. You have to turn the machine off when you add the flour or else powder will fly everywhere, but you can leave it running for the buttermilk. The whole thing is that you cannot add all the flour nor all the buttermilk at once, hence alternating.
When the buttermilk and flour are fully combined, add the mashed bananas. Mix on low and only until evenly dispersed, not excessively – you’re not making bread. With an ice cream scoop for ease of portioning, fill each paper cup 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
• For the frosting (double the recipe if you really like frosting):
1 1/2 cups of super fine vanilla’d sugar
8 oz. of cream cheese at room temperature
4 oz. of softened butter
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a KitchenAid mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix for about 3 minutes until well combined. Transfer to a piping bag with a star tip and decorate the cupcakes once they’ve cooled.
• For the banana brûlée:
2 bananas, sliced in 1/4″-thick coins
2 tbs. of vanilla’d sugar
Lay the banana slices on a heat-proof surface, like a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the sugar over the tops, and with a kitchen-safe blow torch, gently melt the sugar to caramelize it. Make sure they’re cool before laying atop the cream cheese frosting.