Thursday, October 29, 2009

Banana Gingerbread

I used to love banana bread. As an inexperienced cook, it was one of the few breads I knew I could make without totally screwing it up. Plus, there is such an appeal to making something delicious out of something that looks nasty and would otherwise get tossed out. (Let's face it, black bananas are creepy and gross looking, in and out of the peel.)

This all changed about 5 years ago. Blockette, whom we then referred to as baby blocko, had other ideas. I had made banana bread after dinner one night and, being pregnant and lacking in energy, was too tired to clean up the dishes. I made a terrible error in judgement, and left them to soak in the sink overnight. The next day I went to make myself some breakfast and the I saw the dirty dishes and got a whiff of their banana-y smell...let's just say it was not happy fun time. Bananas and anything banana scented were banned from the house until Blockette was born. Toward the end of the pregnancy it got so bad I couldn't even go to the grocery store. Bananas were just that evil!

The smell of banana bread, and sometimes even bananas themselves, still makes me a bit queasy. I do still make banana bread once in a blue moon because Mrblocko and Blockette love it so. I noticed we had a few over ripe bananas in the freezer, and figured it was high time I used them up.

I had two recipes in mind, one that required dried cranberries and pecans, and the other called Banana Gingerbread. I couldn't decide so I let Blockette choose. I told her the choices and she yelled out, "Gingerbread. Oh please let's make the gingerbread. I love ginger!!"

I was afraid she might be disappointed that it wasn't gingersnaps or gingerbread cookies we were making. I knew the real reason she was excited about "gingerbread" was because of the book The Gingerbread Man. Fortunately, she wasn't disappointed and there was no confusion that we were making bread, not cookies. Blockette was just happy to be helping out in the kitchen. Hooray!

This recipe for banana gingerbread comes from Baking Bites. The recipe was everything I hoped for and more. I was a bit worried that using all purpose flour instead of whole wheat would mess up the density of the bread. It turned out just fine. There was a bit less rise than I normally get from quick bread. The bread didn't turn out heavy as a brick so who really cares if the top wasn't domed. My tummy sure didn't.

I did have a queasy moment when I first took the bread out of the oven. I was hit with this strong stink of banana that completely overpowered the gingerbread spices. Once the bread cooled all I could smell in the house was gingerbread goodness. The bread only had a slight hint of banana, mostly if you got a slice that had a chunk of banana that didn't get pulverized. I was OK with that though. So OK, that I ate the majority of the loaf. I will definitely make this bread again...and again.

Banana Gingerbread from Baking Bites
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon (sub for 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup banana, mashed (about 2 large)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, banana, molasses, buttermilk and vegetable oil. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until just ombined. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Makes 1 loaf, 8-10 slices.

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