Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Maple Banana Bread

I once went out with a boy who enjoys food as much as I do, we bonded over plates oozing with burrata cheese, plate brimming with fresh ravioli and pizzas bubbling straight from chimney ovens (if you live in Toronto or plan to visit sometime soon, you ought to go to Gusto and order the Polpette—meatballs on pizza?! Aww yeaaaah). Another added bonus was he had sweet tooth big enough to rival mine: Soma Chocolate, lemon bars, cheesecakes, ice cream, we devoured them all.

Aside from food, we also shared an interest in the digital arts and decided to try our hand at making a baking video. For a week, we exchanged emails sharing the most saliva-inducing videos we found, getting inspiration from other food lovers. I’m unfamiliar with cinematography since I’m used to the control of a camera, so you can imagine my excitement on this project. We chose Heidi’s Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread which took nearly two hours to make, not because it was difficult, but because we were having so much fun.

When I bake, I move swiftly along, my Ipod is playing and my toes tap in rhythm to the wooden spoon beating against the metal bowl, there’s minimal flour spill and by the time the cake pan slides into the oven, the dirty spatulas and measuring spoons are soaking quietly in a soapy bowl. But for this project, we made a mess. As my friend hummed to Bon Iver playing in the background, I surveyed the specks of salt, flour, sugar, and baking soda littered on the black table plus excess olive oil that sat in a glass jar, marking our unsuccessful attempts in catching drool-worthy footage. There were spoons upon spoons splayed out, a teetering tower of dishes to be washed, and best of all, there was the cake in the oven. 

As we ran hot water to clean up the mess and the familiar waft of warm, sweet bananas perfumed the kitchen, a sense of ease passed through me. For a fleeting moment, I wanted to do this everyday, the ordinary washing of dirty dishes, the way he tickled me, how I squealed like a little girl, and how he redeemed himself by wrapping his arms around me.

Yet the cake wasn't as spectacular as I hoped, I was greedy with the chocolate chunks and the banana bread ended up being far too sweet. Still, my friend gobbled up two slices in less than five minutes and declared it delicious. We split up the cake, I gathered my baking tools and headed home.

Then something happened since that banana bread, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but my gut knew that perhaps this boy didn’t want to have any more banana-bread-movie-making days. I never blogged about that recipe because I had originally intended to give you the video, I guess you have to accept that sometimes your expectations won't be met. However, one thing you can do is bake when the craving strikes. I was fumbling through food blogs and found this Maple Banana Bread, a no-fuss recipe, the batter comes together easily and turns out incredibly moist. There’s no chocolate, no walnuts and I skipped the frosting because I prefer my cakes uncomplicated. I brought this to work the next day, welcomed by cheers from my coworkers, something I can definitely expect every time.

Maple Banana Bread
Adapted from Erica of Cooking for Seven

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) butter, softened
1 cup pure maple syrup
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2¾ cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup mashed bananas (from about 3 medium bananas)
¾ cup buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan or line the bottom with parchment paper with the sides overhanging. Alternatively, you can use a bundt pan like I did, just remember to butter every crevice of the pan to avoid the cake splitting when it's done.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand beater, cream the butter until soft and light. Gradually add the maple syrup and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes more, or until very light. The butter and maple syrup may separate slightly.

3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl and beaters occasionally. Beat in the vanilla.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the  flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture along with the milk and bananas. Beat on low speed just until combined.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepare pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the cake is well risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack, removing the paper, and allow to cool completely.

Recipe here!

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