Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yes, We Have No Bananas

Over the past year or so, Significant Eater has developed a significant aversion to bananas. Yes, bananas; that wondrous fruit readily available the year round, at a reasonable price. No matter where you are, I'm sure bananas are around...they're grown in over 100 countries, travel well, and people just like 'em. Well, most people.

Back when Significant Eater trained for and ran and completed the 2004 NYC marathon, she devoured bananas, and many runners and other endurance athletes find bananas a quick, easily digestible source of energy. There have been studies about that...and if I felt like it, I'd google it and post a link, but...

Anyway, Significant Eater is once again an athlete-in-training. Yes, that's right, she's registered for and planning to run the 2009 NYC Marathon, and I am once again her designated nutrition coach. But if you think she's back into eating bananas, you'd be wrong. So what's a coach to do?

Well, for one, I am (as might have been pointed out before) a professionally schooled cook. And in order to complete my schooling, I did have to take an intensive program in Pastry and Baking. My teacher for those classes was the one and only Nick Malgieri - the head of the Pastry & Baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education, formerly Peter Kump's Cooking School.
Nick is a great teacher, a wonderful baker and just an all-around good guy (though he did knock my grade down a bit for having too much buttercream in between the layers of a chocolate cake I baked for an exam). That didn't matter a bit; one of the go-to books in my baking arsenal has always been...

Now, getting back to bananas, and getting Significant Eater to eat them, that's the goal. And really, what's a better way to start than with what is in my mind a classic; the hippie-ish 60's and 70's delicacy - banana bread? There must be hundreds of recipes for banana bread. With nuts or without? Perhaps raisins or some other dried fruit? What about chocolate chips or something decadent like that?

Well, it just so happens that Nick's book has one of the simplest, no-brainer recipes for banana bread that I've tried (confession - I've been making banana bread since way before SE's aversion to the fruit appeared). Works every time - it's tried and true. But, and here's where the problem started...I decided to go "off-the-menu" as they say, and dragged this out instead...

Don't get me wrong - this is a great book too. It's just that the banana bread that I baked from it was a bit of a disaster...I'm sure it was partly my fault, but suffice to say that I'll be returning to Nick's guidance when I have some more ripe bananas in the house.

Anyway, to start, you should gather all the ingredients together - that way, you'll know BEFORE you start that you can complete the recipe - which you've of course read through and through. Haven't you?

Baking, as stated many times before, is a bit more of a science than "cooking." Not getting into that debate right now, but in general it's good to follow a recipe and measure stuff when baking - especially for novices and semi-novices like me. In the picture above, you can see some whole-wheat flour, which isn't called for in the recipe - but I like to sub about 1/2 cup of the whole wheat flour in for the plain white flour (makes me feel virtuous); that's about as much riffing as I do. It's also good to know if your oven is properly calibrated - invest $10 in an oven thermometer to find out - if it's off, you can adjust accordingly.

Banana bread is from the "quick bread" family of baking. In general, that means the wet ingredients are mixed together, flour and nuts/dried fruit/chocalate/etc. are added and stirred just to combine thoroughly, the batter is dumped into a pan (or muffin cups) and the baking is commenced. Easy. The rise comes from eggs, baking powder and/or baking soda and the heat of the oven - no yeast.

And even though the bread I baked the other day was a semi-disaster (okay, it got stuck to the pan and practically fell apart when I went to put it on a cooling rack), it was still quite serviceable - and delicious...

Trust me - with a little practice, you'll be turning out banana breads that can even be served for dessert- topped with ice cream, what could be bad? I like it toasted and topped with peanut butter for breakfast, and Significant Eater doesn't even know how many bananas she's eaten!


1 cup raisins
1 1/4 c (6 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
1/2 c (2 1/2 oz.) whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 T butter, softened
2/3 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c (8 oz.) mashed ripe bananas

Preheat your oven to 375. Butter and flour an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 loaf pan.

Toss raisins with a tablespoon of the flour...this keeps them from settling to the bottom of the batter.

Sift together the dry ingredients.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time till well combined. Scrape the bowl a few times when mixing. Add the bananas and vanilla - mix more. Scrape again.

Fold in flour mixture, then raisins. Combine thoroughly but don't overmix.

Pour and scrape the batter into the pan. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes, till done - check doneness with a skewer or thin knife by inserting into bread - it should come out clean.

Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a rack and let cool - for at least 2 hours works.



  1. How have I never thought of banana bread toast with peanut butter before? This is why you make the big bucks.

  2. Mitch....HELP ME PLEASE!!!! I am having "issues" with my intestinal track. I blame it on Russian Jewish genes and YOU teaching me how to eat SPICY foods in 1976 in Santa Barbara. Now I have to go "easy" on my intestines and take care of this huge Hiatal hernia. Mitch! What can I eat that is NOT ACIDIC (no I didnt mean Hasidic) and easy to digest? Any recipe suggestions. I am so sick of BLAND! A suffering OLD friend!

  3. Loie - oy vey.
    Maybe the bland diet will help heal that baby up? Anyway, up the salt a little, that can't hurt. And I'll try and think of some good recipes to send to you.

    The old Chinese eat congee - might be worth learning how to prepare.

  4. Yummy! Gary's favorite! Just can't get into this baking thing, but maybe I'll give this delicious recipe a try.....yeah sure I will!Baking seems so intimidating to me! yikes!
    Whole Food's sells a great banana bread but, no raisins, which are a must in banana bread.

  5. Hey raisaress - baking isn't hard at all. Just make sure you have the right size pan, fairly fresh ingredients and that your oven is the temperature it claims to be - you can buy an accurate oven thermometer for under $10.

    Then, measure ingredients accurately and you'll have no problems.

  6. Dear Nutrition Coach: banana bread =s banana =s ease of accessible energy? I'm all for the banana bread, but maybe you should try pasta for quick energy boosts? LOL! I can send you pasta any time you like!!
    And yes, that was a Manhattan twinkling in the late afternoon sun, Clever Mitch.