Banana bread from boring to exciting

By Scott Greenberg

Banana bread is pretty much one of the most boring culinary inventions in the food world. It’s not even something most people try to make on purpose, they just remember that they have some bananas in the freezer and figure “Hey, this is marginally better than just having frozen bananas.” And you don’t go out of your way to make banana bread the way you decide you need a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies this instant. You just find out someone’s made it and say “Oh look…banana bread.” It’s the doorstop of baking. It’s just…there.

But hey, why shouldn’t banana bread be exciting? I mean, it’s got bananas in it, and those are pretty tasty, and it’s really more cake than bread. The problem is that that’s all that goes into the mix. Sure, maybe every once in a while someone gets a little crazy and decides to throw some walnuts in there, but other than that? There’s not a whole lot of innovation in the banana bread game. It’s stagnated, folks.

I think it needs a little jumpstart, personally. And, like most of my jump starts, this one’s gonna involve fire and alcohol. I’m nothing if not consistent.

Here’s what you need:

– 3 ripe bananas, cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices (You can freeze them, just let them thaw for a few minutes first)

– 1/4 cup dark brown sugar

– 1 cup sugar

– 1 stick + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

– 1 tablespoon milk

– 2 eggs

– 2 cups flour

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

– 1 teaspoon baking soda

– 1 teaspoon baking salt

– 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

– 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1 tablespoon banana liqueur (You can get away with not having this if you don’t have any lying around…And why the hell would you, really?)

– 1/4 cup dark rum (MAKE SURE IT’S DARK)

– 1/2 teaspoon orange zest

– 3 cups of powdered sugar

Here’s how you do it:

First, get yourself a big-ass skillet, and melt your 2 tablespoons of butter in there on low. Once it’s melted, add your brown sugar, nutmeg, and allspice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the banana liqueur if you have it, and bring everything to a simmer. Then, add the bananas and cook them for a minute on each side. They’re probably not going to be perfect, ideal slices because they’ll be all mushy and gross, but it doesn’t really matter since they’ll be bread dough in about five minutes. Also, pour some sauce on those bananas while they’re cooking. Let them bathe in the goodness.

Take the bananas out of the pan and put them on a separate plate. Meanwhile, let the sauce simmer again, take the pan off of the stove, and add the rum, SLOWLY. I’m pretty sure singed eyebrows weren’t up there in the ingredients list, but you can double-check it if you like. If the rum doesn’t immediately blow up in your face, use a long match or a kitchen torch to get it started. It should flame out not long after you light it.

After the flame dies out, put the pan back on the heat and cook for a couple minutes more until the sauce becomes syrupy. Stir in the orange zest, then set the sauce aside to cool. Once the sauce is cooled down, put it in a container, stick it in the fridge and save it for later.

Take the bananas you saved and strain out the rest of the liquid from them. You don’t want to actually push the bananas through the strainer, just place them on top and collect the liquid, then add that to the sauce you already saved.

Now for the actual bread part. Preheat your oven to 325. Cream together your sugar and butter, then mix in the eggs one at a time. In another small bowl, mash the bananas up, then mix in the milk and cinnamon. Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Add the bananas to the butter and sugar and stir them together until combined. Do the same for that mixture and the dry stuff, and stir just until the flour’s fully mixed in. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick, pour the batter in and bake for about an hour. If you put a toothpick in the middle and it comes out with batter on it, just keep baking.

While that’s in the oven, make your glaze. Get the bananas foster sauce/liquid/goop out of the fridge and add the powdered sugar to it a half cup at a time. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really keep track of how much sugar I used at all…I just kept mixing it in until it became glaze. Just do that, and stir it into the liquid with a fork. You’ll know when it’s ready. Either that or you’re completely unfamiliar with glaze, in which case you’re probably a better person than the rest of us Krispy Kreme inhaling monsters.

Once the “bread” (come on…it’s cake. Don’t fool yourself.) comes out of the oven, let it cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, then turn the bread out of the pan and let it sit on the rack until it’s completely cool.

After the bread cools, put it back in the loaf pan and pour the glaze over the top. Let the glaze set, then cut yourself a slice and shove it in your face. Make sure you shove some beats in your face too. This week it’s Phonte featuring Elzhi with “Not Here Anymore,” produced by the one and only 9th Wonder. 

I don’t like unnecessarily complicating things in my baking, but that doesn’t mean you have to be boring as hell either. So when you see a chance to take something plain and make it, well, way less plain…do it. Do it with everything. Treat that banana bread like Anne Hathaway in “The Princess Diaries” and make it pretty. Pour some glaze and some fire over your everyday life. And keep on reading. I’ll see you next time.