Over the weekend Mr. Foodie got a hankering to bake something (inspired, I’m convinced, by my tasty coconut and chocolate oatmeal bars). He had trouble deciding what exactly it was he wanted to bake. Since it was 8pm at that point and I was not about to go out to get any new ingredients, I helpfully pointed out that his options were somewhat limited by the fact that we only had two eggs left and nothing sweet to add like chocolate or berries. That is when he spied the slightly overripe bananas hanging delicately over the wire basket that holds our lemons, onions, and garlic. Banana bread! He immediately started googling banana bread recipes and, although I have a recipe handed down to me from my grandma, he really wanted to try Emeril Lagasse’s version.
I was initially puzzled by Emeril’s addition of cinnamon to this recipe since every banana bread I’ve ever had did not include this cozy spice. My banana bread almost never includes anything extra except peanut butter, which goes excellently with bananas btw (and is also a great way to introduce peanuts into a child’s diet in order to prevent a severe peanut allergy). But considering Emeril’s additions of cinnamon and macadamia nuts, I could see where he was going with the flavor profile. Since we didn’t have macadamia nuts on hand, Mr. Foodie decided to add dried cranberries from the enormous bag that we’ve been trying to use up for weeks.
Let me tell you with a mixture of dismay and awe that this banana bread knocked. my. socks. off. No joke and no fiance-flattery either. This was seriously the best banana bread I’ve ever tasted. The crisp, brown edges had a tantalizing caramelized flavor which gradually gave way to the moist, sweet bread pierced with sharp, tart bullets of cranberry and the ever-so-subtle, but all-important lingering warmth of the cinnamon. The banana was cloying, but rounded out the flavors, embracing them instead of dominating them like so many recipes that involve bananas. We ate it warm from the oven, with thin pats of butter melting into the slices – a creamy, salty note that danced playfully with the sweet banana flavor. I still think about it, days after we polished off that loaf. Now I’m eagerly awaiting the over-ripening of my last banana so we can make it again!
For your convenience, I’ve copied out Emeril’s recipe below with our deviations noted. I’d love to hear if you like this version as much as we did!
Adapted Emeril Lagasse Banana Bread Recipe
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup mashed ripe bananas (we used one medium sized banana)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup macadamia nuts (we ommitted the nuts and added 1/4C dried cranberries instead)
Pinch of cinnamon (Mr. Foodie threw a generous pinch in)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Oil and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. (we lost our loaf pan in the move, so we used a small casserole dish)
Using an electric mixer, cream the shortening and sugar. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time. Add the bananas and mix well. Add the baking soda, salt, flour, nuts and cinnamon and mix thoroughly. The dough will be sticky.
Pour the dough into the prepared pan and bake about one hour or until the center is brown and set.
My note on making banana bread: people get frustrated sometimes because the outside of the bread gets brown before the middle cooks fully. Just know that you will cook this bread past the point where you think you should – you’ll be smelling it for a good 15 minutes before it is done (we went almost the whole hour that Emeril recommends). Remember to use an oven thermometer to check your temp and adjust accordingly.