In the kitchen: Banana Bread

I've found myself with a little bit of downtime in the kitchen. The crazy rush of holidays orders are over, and things have quieted down a little bit - just enough to allow me to experiment with new cookies, new flavors, new ideas... as well as revisit old recipes - ones that I've been making for years - ones that remind me why I love baking so much.

I was headed to the kitchen early one morning, and before I grabbed my cup of coffee to rush out the door, I noticed some bananas sitting on the counter that had gone un-eaten due to the busyness of my life outside of baking. I took one look at that sad, fragrant, little heap of bruised fruit and thought, "Well... of course! It must be done. They're calling to me, and I must heed the call."

... so I did. I dusted off an old recipe - one lovingly ripped off from my Best Friend - and got to work exercising my baker-muscles. Not the entrepreneurial baker-muscles I use on a daily basis, but the original ones - the ones motivated by the specific recipe, the specific story behind the recipe, and the specific recipient of the end result. The orginal baker-muscles that eventually led me to create Butter + Love.

I have to tell you, few things are more comforting to me than the smell of freshly baked banana bread. It reminds me of Thanksgiving morning: My Best Friend Stephen and I spend Thanksgiving together every year - have been for eight or so years now - and my absolute favorite part of the day is waking up, brewing a fresh pot of coffee, and then sitting on the couch with him - drinking coffee, eating warm banana bread, and watching the Macy's Day Parade, laughing at the sometimes ridiculous banter of the news anchors. It's a morning I look forward to every year.

So, sure... it's not Thanksgiving and I didn't make these solely for Stephen and myself, but I do hope the recipients of these mini baked beauties get the same comfort and satisfaction out of them that Stephen and I do. It's bread that warms the heart - which is the best kind of bread.

Thanksgiving Day Banana Bread
(lovingly ripped off and slightly altered from my Best Friend, Stephen's recipe)

For the bread:

3/4 cup butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, separated
5 large very ripe bananas, mashed
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cups finely chopped pecans

For the topping:

Equal parts dark brown sugar and chopped pecans, and a dash of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (or use mini disposable pans, as shown above).
Cream butter and sugar together thoroughly. 
Add eggs yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
Add bananas, mixing well. 
Measure 1/2 cup milk and add sour cream to fill the cup.
Sift together the flour, soda and salt. 
Add the flour and milk alternately to the banana mixture, ending with the flour.  Add the nuts and mix well.
Beat egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks; fold carefully into banana batter.
Divide batter evenly between the pans. 
Sprinkle tops with brown sugar/pecan mixture.
Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Note: These freeze well if you wrap them in Saran Wrap and then Foil.

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