When I was little, my mom passed on two very important nuggets of wisdom. The first was that life is a many splendored thing. And the second? Monkeys don’t eat bananas when they’re full.
I’m pretty sure that her main motivation for passing on these sage words was the instant reaction she’d get from me. She barely had to say “Monkeys don’t” before I’d be giggling uncontrollably. I don’t know what I thought was funnier: the way she said it, the fact that she said it so often or the fact that it’s totally true. Monkeys don’t eat bananas when they’re full. All I could think through those belly-aching giggles was that my mom was one funny, funny genius.
So for the sole purpose of nostalgia, here’s my favorite banana-filled treat for all you monkeys out there. I went years and years trying all sorts of banana bread recipes without landing on one that I really loved. They always came out too dry, too sweet or too blah. Then a little more than a year ago, Starbucks revamped a bunch of their bakery items by wiping away all the artificial flavors and additives that they used to put in their products. My first reaction to this news was: Good for Starbucks. My second reaction was: Wait, what was I eating before? But back to the good-for-Starbucks bit. Along with the revamp, the company put out a few cards in the store with the new recipes for some of their best-sellers. I grabbed the cards for oatmeal cookies and banana bread. The oatmeal cookies were OK. The banana bread (with a few minor adjustments) was pretty fantastic.
Here’s the recipe as I make it. I stay pretty close to Starbucks’ originally version, except I nix the walnuts (I’m allergic. Eek!), add an extra tablespoon of buttermilk and triple the vanilla.
• 2 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg
• 1 1/8 cups sugar
• 1/2 cup canola oil
• 3 tablespoons buttermilk
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
• 3 to 4 ripe bananas (3 big or 4 small)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a loaf pan (I use a glass one; it just seems to cook better than the tin kind), and dust with flour. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, sugar and oil. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, and blend. Add buttermilk and vanilla, then add mashed bananas, and blend until combined. Pour batter into loaf pan, and bake until toothpick comes out clean. In my oven with my pan, that takes 75 to 80 minutes, but the Starbucks folks say 45 to 60. So I’d start with the 45 and see where you are after that. I like to use the same knife trick with this one that I use with the pumpkin bread. If the knife comes out almost clean with a tiny bit still sticking, you’re perfect.
I made a double batch of this banana bread a few days ago and stuck one in the freezer (it’s layered to the max with Saran Wrap, foil and a Ziploc freezer bag).
So a few weeks from now when we’re super busy but in the mood for fresh-baked goodness, we’ll be ready to roll without even touching the oven. Yahoo, preparedness!
Then again, we just polished off loaf No. 1 today, and knowing a second one is waiting in the freezer is kind of making me crazy. A few weeks from now? Who am I kidding? That frozen deliciousness is coming out ASAP.
So monkeys don’t eat bananas when they’re full. But banana bread? That’s another story.