24 December 2006

A New Fling: Banana Bread with Booze and Raisins

Yesterday I decided it was time to break up with my banana bread recipe from The Joy of Cooking. I’m not really sure what possessed me to make this sudden life change, as things were really going great for us. It’s just that our relationship was becoming so familiar, so comfortable, and I was itching for a something new.

It was very difficult to initiate the break-up. I had it to do it in person, of course. You can’t text message someone you love that you are going to break up with them, just like you can’t text message banana bread that you are going to be using a different recipe from now on. It’s just not the right thing to do.

As I opened up The Joy of Cooking to give it the bad news, my heart collapsed with guilt when the book opened automatically to the banana bread recipe. Was it true love, or was it because of all the crap that I have spilled on those welcoming pages throughout the years? I do hope the latter is true, otherwise I have wasted my beautiful, brown, almost-rotten bananas on a new recipe that might not work out.

The recipe was overwhelmed with despair when I informed it of my situation. As it pleaded with me and listed reason after reason why we should stay together and try to make it work, I insisted that the good times were over...that things were wonderful while they lasted, but that it was time move on. I lovingly caressed its spattered pages, wiped away its tears (or maybe those were butter stains), and I closed the book.

Call me a recipe slut if you will, but the Joy of Cooking was not closed for even three seconds before I opened up Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess. I don’t know...maybe I should have given my emotions some time to settle. Maybe I should have stayed single for awhile before venturing out into the sea of banana recipes. But it’s so easy to move on when the first recipe you are attracted to has booze and golden raisins in it! And we all know that if anything can tempt a girl into a rebound relationship, it’s booze and raisins.

How is the new fling going? So far, pretty good. The bread hasn’t been sliced yet, so I can’t share any intimate details, but our getting-to-know-you stage is progressing just fine. I’d have to say that for once it’s fun to get to know someone before hastily jumping in and getting romantic right away. The anticipation is half of the fun. What will the new banana bread taste like? Will it it have a moist yet fluffy texture? Will it soothe me when I am sad? Will it make me laugh? Will it rub my back after a long day at work?
I definitely have my doubts...maybe I have too many expectations for Nigella’s loaf. What if it’s flat and soggy? What if it tastes more like flour than bananas? What if it’s boring, self-absorbed, and drinks Yellowtail?

There is so much to find out about this new recipe. As I introduce it to my family during our first Christmas together, I will undoubtedly learn more about its strengths and weaknesses. More details to come.

Banana Bread with Booze and Golden Raisins
~from Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking
1/2 cup golden raisins
6 tbs. bourbon or dark rum (I used brandy because that's what I had)
1 cup plus 2 tbs. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 small, very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla extract
9 x 5 loaf pan, buttered and floured, or with paper insert

Put the golden raisins and rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat, cover, and leave for an hour if you can, or until the raisins have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain (or drink).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and get started on the rest. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained raisins, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit. Scrape into the loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. When it’s ready, an inserted toothpick should come out cleanish. Leave in the pan on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer.
Makes 8-10 slices.

Replace 2 tbs. flour with good cocoa powder and add 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, cut up into smallish chunks (or use chocolate chips).

Beautiful, almost-rotten bananas. Perfect for baking!


Annie said...

Golden raisins! Ooh, blondes can be so dangerous. I can see why you wandered.

Kristen said...

You are so funny! This is a fantastic post. I'm impressed that you took the jump... it's hard to find a good banana bread recipe these days. They just aren't like they used to be. Booze, however, would probably make me want to wander as well. I hope your family welcomes your new love with open arms.
BTW - I married my rebound guy.... which means that often times, the rebound really can work out!

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm a bit of a recipe slut as well. I'm always looking for a new recipe, no matter how good the first one was. But there are a lot of fish in the sea, right?
Great post!

Meg said...

Fantastic post, I gotta say. Let us know how things work out once you get past the honeymoon stage!

(and yeah, booze and raisins sway me every time)

Karen said...

I love the chocolate chip idea on the bottom. Banana bread is awesome, but I'm not a big fan of raisins so I think I'll add the choco chips instead. Haha, I love this entry.

Annie said...

Definitely one of my top 2 banana bread recipes (Paula Deen's is the other) - delish.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Erielle, this is my first visit to your lovely blog - I had a laugh with this post! I know I'll be here all the time from now on. :D

Your banana bread is beautiful!! I have this book too and I love it.

Best regards from Brazil,

Y said...

I love experimenting and trying new recipes too, but sometimes it's comforting to be able to go back to the good ole reliable standards.

Hope the break-up was worth it! :)

J said...

I've made the Joy of Cooking recipe many times, and I find it...'eh'. Not special, just OK. Please don't tell, I don't want to break its already fragile heart. So what I need to know is, how did this recipe turn out? It's clearly time for an update to this post. :)

ulterior epicure said...

What a great post! You and I are like twins in our taste - except you liked the baked version and I like the frozen version. Check it out my post on "nanners and rummy raisins!"


Erielle said...

Annie, the blondes behaved and turned out to be keepers. I will be putting them in all my banana breads in the future.

Kristen, congratulations on marrying your rebound! Iʻm glad that worked out for you.

Natalia, thanks! Hereʻs to being recipe sluts.

Meg, there are some pros and some cons about the new recipe. Pros would be the booze, cons would be that the bread turned out thicker than what I am used to. But perhaps that could be because my bananas were very very very ripe. I need to try it a few more times.

Karen, I think I am going to try the chocolate variation soon. Iʻm uncertain of how the cocoa powder will taste in the bread, so Iʻll have to make that for someone I donʻt really like in case it doesnʻt turn out. Hee hee.

Annie, I will have to get Paula Deenʻs online. Thanks for the the tip!

Patricia, I am happy that you are enjoying Fancy Toast. What other recipes do you like from this book? I havenʻt tried many, but there are so many in the book that I canʻt decide what to make.

Y, I think I might two-time and go between the both of them for awhile before I decide which one of them is the one to stick with.

J, you are right, I do need an update. Soon, I promise! Which banana bread recipe do you use?

U.E., that banana ice cream looks delicious! I love raisins in my ice cream. Haagen-Dazs makes a delicious rum raisin flavor and there are raisins in it. Mmmmm...I want some right now.

john said...

your website is fantastic.