(Update: For an even better banana bread experience, go visit this more recent post.)
This morning I was singing at the top of my lungs in my kitchen. Luckily no one was around to hear, except my little boy, who thinks I’m just peachy no matter what I sound like.
There’s this girl I went to high school with. She was a year younger than me, and I don’t think we ever actually had a conversation. Ever. But we were both involved in our school’s large choral program, so we brushed shoulders a bit.
Where is she now? She was in the top ten 2009 American Idol. She’s famous. She’s cutting albums and dressing glamorously, and all that jazz.
Where am I? I haven’t been in the choral scene since graduation. I chased after a different dream – happily living a quiet, snug little home life, baking to my heart’s content, playing with the sweetest of all little boys, absolutely and utterly satisfied with my little corner of the world. Oh, and I still get to sing. In my kitchen. And nobody cares if I hit a sour note or two.
We’re both getting what we want out of life. How about that?
Here’s a banana bread which is wonderfully dense and moist, if you like that in a banana bread. And it’s out-of-this-world-flavorful. I know, everybody already has their perfect, go-to banana bread recipe. I think we’re all born with one. Mine, I don’t even know where it originated. I’ve been using it my whole life, literally. It’s old, and it’s filled with love. And I’ve made it all mine.
Banana Almond Bread
3/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 – 1 cup chopped almonds or pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, cream together shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs. Add the mashed bananas and extracts, and stir until completely blended. Combine the flour and baking soda together in a small mixing bowl, and add to the banana mixture. Stir gently just until flour is incorporated. Stir in nuts if desired.
Pour batter into two prepared loaf pans. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before releasing loafs from pans. Let loaves cool completely on a wire rack. For a crazy-soft top, wrap the loaves in plastic wrap and let them sit overnight before slicing.