bananas

Some people buy bananas for their nutritional value.

I buy them for bread.

Mashed banana can transform a quick bread from good to extraordinary. Stir some into a chocolate loaf batter and watch how the fruit cuts the richness of the bread and adds an almost savory kick. (Skeptical? Try the Coco-Nana Bread from Dorie Greenspan‘s Baking.) Add chopped banana to oatmeal bread for a fresh-from-the-oven take on fruit and cereal. Substitute coconut milk for the liquid in your favorite banana bread recipe, then add flaked coconut and macadamia nuts for a tropical twist. Glaze banana bread with a butter/powdered sugar/bourbon mixture for a bananas foster feel.

Oh, the possibilities!

Today, I want something to welcome my boys home from the first day of school. They were so excited this morning: The big boy was up, showered and eating breakfast when I came down at 5:30 a.m. (He’d even fed the dog!) The little one bounced up at 6:30 and arrived for breakfast already dressed.

Milestones like these deserve to be rewarded! I crack open my Southern Living Cookbook and go right to its banana quick bread recipe.

“Quick” is the operative word for this version of banana bread. It takes only 5 minutes to whip up the basic batter and just a few more if you want to play.

banana blueberriesToday, I decide to make a couple of different banana breads. I have some lovely local blueberries in the refrigerator. I have a bag of dark chocolate chips in the pantry. And I have four beautiful bananas. I decide to make some banana-blueberry bread and some giant cocoa-scented banana muffins.

These may not have the nutritional value of a naked banana. But they’re a perfect welcome home for my two boys.

Basic Banana Bread (Southern Living Cookbook)

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8 1/2- X 4 1/2-inch loafpan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, banana, milk and oil, mixing well.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and gently stir until the batter is just moist. Spoon into the prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan.

NOTE: If you want to make muffins, follow these directions but increase the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the muffins from their tins immediately.

Cocoa-Scented Banana Muffins With Dark Chocolate Chips

  • banana chocolate muffins1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup demerara, or raw, sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Combine the flour, baking powder, sugars and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the egg, bananas, milk and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and mix only until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Carefully fold in the chocolate chips.

Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into well-greased muffin tins (I like to use oversized ones). Bake as directed for muffins.

Banana Blueberry Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons semolina flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup demerara, or raw, sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup blueberries, rinsed, dried well and tossed with a tablespoon of flour

Combine the flours, baking powder, sugars and salt in a large bowl.

banana blueberry batterIn a separate, smaller bowl, combine the egg, bananas, milk and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and mix only until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Carefully fold in the blueberries, being careful not to mash the fruit.

Bake as directed, either for bread or for muffins. Sprinkle the top of the batter with more raw sugar if you want some extra crunch!

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