Ah, Banana Bread.  Is there any other baked good that you have to plan a week in advance to make.  You might get your craving for Banana Bread on a Monday, but by the time you buy the under-ripe super market bananas and wait impatiently for them to ripen it might be Sunday, and by then you might have a whole new craving.  That’s why when I was presented with three perfectly ripe bananas by my visiting in-laws, I knew I had to seize the moment.  Banana bread must be made.

Actually, in truth the bananas could have used a day or two more.  Then they would have been overripe – totally black and ugly – absolutely perfect for banana bread.  But these three normally ripe bananas would have to do.  When peeled and mashed they gave me almost a cup and half of banana mush – the amount needed to make my mom’s famous banana bread.

Now my mom makes this bread for everything.  When I was growing up it was her go-to homemade Christmas gift,  her go-to breakfast item, heck, there were times it was her go-to dessert.  Because this bread is dense and moist it can serve all of these purposes and more.  Plus it freezes beautifully.  Many people have received previously frozen banana bread as gifts from my mom and were never the wiser.

The only thing I’ve ever changed about my mom’s recipe is the spices.  Since I’m addicted to nutmeg I always tend to add bit of freshly ground nutmeg.  This time I also added in a pinch of cinnamon.  Personally, I think they give the bread a nice warm spiciness, but to honest, Mom’s original recipe works just fine.  You really can’t go wrong – either eat it yourself or give it away.  Or just hoard it in your freezer, since you never know when that banana bread craving will attack, and there’s no better way to be prepared.

Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup mashed bananas

2 eggs beaten

1 t. vanilla

2 cups flour

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1/2 cup milk

pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon (optional)

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degree.  Butter and flour a loaf pan.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in one bowl and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar together.  Add in the mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla.  Add in the flour mixture.  Add in the milk as well as the nutmeg, cinnamon and nuts it needed.

Pour mixture into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from oven and let rest in the pan for 15 minutes.  Then remove from pan and let fully cool on a rack.

To freeze – double wrap the loaf in aluminum foil and place in a zip lock plastic bag.

Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

After the disappointing Pear and Ginger Muffins, I was left with a hankering for some good, sweet, crumbly breakfast foods. I was craving coffee cake. Months ago, I had seen this recipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog and had been looking for a reason to try it out. But when I announced my intention to my husband C, he protested. Apparently, he thinks that all the baking I’ve been doing is causing him to gain weight. I assured him that this coffee cake would be taken in to my workplace to feed grateful co-workers and that it need not grace his lips, but he still seemed skeptical.

Apples

I didn’t have any rhubarb, but I did have two apples, so I chopped them up and set them aside. I then moved on to the crumb part, and that’s when I knew this would be a good recipe. One stick of melted butter combined with the sugars, spices and flour made a crumb topping unlike any I’d ever seen. The topping was thick, almost like play dough. And by having melted butter, it was more thoroughly incorporated into the topping than it would have been if it was cold butter. Once the cake batter was done, and the apples added, the topping was applied by tearing chunks off of the buttery mass. The topping was basically as high as the batter itself, and since the best part of the coffee cake is the crumb topping, this was a very good thing.

Crumb Topping

Once the cake was in the oven, the cinnamon and spice aromas permeated our apartment. C began wandering into the kitchen, and asking when the coffee cake would be out. When I reminded him that that the coffee cake was destined for my co-workers, the begging began. In the end after making him smell the cooling coffee cake for 30 minutes, I relented and cut him a piece. ‘Mmm… better than Starbucks’ coffee cake’ – which he assured me was high praise.

Baked Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

So if you like your coffee cake heavy on the crumbles, and better than that Seattle chain, this is the recipe for you!

Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

With apologies to Smitten Kitchen and Adapted from The New York Times 6/6/07

2 Apples – peeled and chopped into a ¼ dice.

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups flour

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. Peel and chop the apples and set aside.

2. To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.

3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon apples over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over apples; it does not have to be even.

5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.