As much as I love to cook, I have never mastered baking. There’s something almost scientific about it that just eludes me. I don’t measure accurately enough, or my oven isn’t calibrated (is that a thing?), or I get distracted as I am putting the ingredients together and just dump everything in a bowl at once instead of carefully sifting.
I end up throwing pots and utensils around with about as much skill as the Swedish chef on the Muppet Show, the kitchen ends up looking like a disaster, and sometimes I have nothing to show for the mess. I have thrown out cakes with centers that look like craters, bread with the weight and texture of bricks, and cookies with burnt edges. More often than not, I present the test kitchen (my hungry boys) with a pile of crumbly something, explaining, “I know it’s ugly, but it still tastes good!”
Our friends at Sprouted Kitchen just posted the most absolutely gorgeous photographs of Chocolate Cupcakes with Cocoa Marscapone Frosting, and now I have cupcake envy. As Sara points out, cupcakes are a good option for a not-so-great baker who doesn’t want to commit to a triple layer cake.
If you are an especially desperate case like me, you might need something even easier than cupcakes. This banana bread is like a recipe with training wheels for the baking challenged. Inspired by an old SmittenKitchen recipe, it doesn’t even require a mixer. As my oldest son demonstrated last weekend, a 9-year-old could make this without any help beyond safely putting it into and removing it from a hot oven.
We like to make this bread on Sundays, when any bananas leftover from last week’s shopping trip are nearly black. Because we can’t get locally grown bananas, they are a luxury item in our household, and I hate to waste even one. Serve this banana bread warm with just a dab of butter, slather on some apple sauce, or just serve it plain. I promise you can’t mess it up.
- 3 ripe bananas, smashed
- ⅓ cup melted butter
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1½ cups flour
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Using a flat spoon or rubber spatula, mix butter and mashed bananas in a large bowl.
- Add the sugar, egg, vanilla, bourbon, and spices.
- Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
- Mix in the flour.
- Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan.
- Bake for 50 minutes to one hour. Cool, slice, and enjoy!