Today is not the best of baking days. It is thunderstorming, and humidity can affect flour, but I have bananas to use up. I love bananas. They are the hiker’s friend, good for leg cramps (potassium) and instant energy. And, they are versatile. When they first come home with me they can be eaten out of hand, sliced into cold cereal, dipped in cocoa powder (decadent!) or sauteed in butter with a little rum/limoncello/brandy… mmmmm! In a day or two (depending on ripeness) they are wonderful mixed into hot oatmeal.
A day or two later and bananas are great for mashing into pancake batter, or for making banana bread or cake. That’s what I’m doing today. I had two bananas that were on the cusp of over-ripe and one that was close enough, and since I have a bag of “too-far-gones” in the fridge already, I thought banana cake was a good idea.
“Too-far-gone” in my book means that the banana skins are completely black, and that the bananas are past eating or even baking with, but they do not go on the compost, oh no they do not. Here’s a neat thing I learned from a member of the butterfly forum.
1 over-ripe (too-far-gone) banana
1 hanging basket of almost any kind
Punch a few holes in the banana skin with the toothpick. Lay the banana in amongst the flowers or plants in the hanging basket. Watch the butterflies! After a few days there will be nothing left but the banana skin. Remove it to the compost and put a “fresh” old one in its place.
I love having happy butterflies in my yard, and this is a great thing to do if you have kids. The butterflies (in this case, specifically Variegated Fritillaries) get so involved that they forget to watch out, so you can really watch *them*!
If you want to feed yourself as well, banana bread is easy and fine for breakfast, afternoon tea, or dessert. You can dress it up with powdered sugar or whipped cream, use the same recipe for muffins or tea cakes, and add chocolate chips, different kinds of nuts, or, if gluten is not an issue you can simply use 2 C of white flour in the recipe below. Here’s a good jumping off point:
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/4 C solid vegetable shortening
1 C white rice flour
1 C quinoa flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 C candied ginger chopped
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 T seven spice (or a mixture of cardamom, cinnamon and allspice)
1/4 t salt
3 soft ripe bananas, mashed
2 T half and half
Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour a bread or cake pan.
In a small bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together, add the chopped nuts and chopped candied ginger. Set aside. In a larger bowl, cream the sugar and shortening together; add the eggs and beat together until a lighter shade of yellow. In another small bowl, mash the bananas.
Mix about 1/2 of the flour mixture into the butter/sugar egg mixture. Stir to combine. Add the bananas, mix, and add the rest of the flour. If it seems to dense or dry, add 2 T of half and half and stir to combine.
Pour banana bread batter into 1 greased and floured loaf or cake pan; bake at 325° for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool the cake/bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so. Finish cooling on a rack. Once cool, this will keep for several days in the fridge (although it never seems to last that long!). Enjoy with tea, coffee, and friends while watching the aerial ballet of the butterflies.