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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Spiced Banana Bread


Well, hello, stranger! Long time no see.

Hard to believe that another holiday season has careened by. Fortunately, it was a lovely one. We finally are in a northern (read: cold and snowy) clime, which always helps get me in the holiday spirit. We live within a couple hours of my husband's side of the family and we received visits from multiple members of my side. My mom came and spent Christmas with us! It's been a number of years since we were together on Christmas day itself... and this year was extra special! It was my boy's first Christmas. Needless to say, there's been a lot of joy around here.

Speaking of the boy! He still keeps me on my toes. He's such a good guy though; the vast majority of the time, he plays really well and lets me get some things done. Naps are still tricky... and - apparently - cyclical in nature. We have a week or so of really good naps and then a few weeks of middling naps and then a week of horrible naps. Can you guess which part of the cycle we're in today?

He's also become a really good eater. I should post a before and after photo sometime of his meal plate. Not only does he go for volume, but he loves a wide variety of foods. While there are days when he is or isn't in the mood for one food or another, I cannot think of a single food he just won't ever touch. This week I made falafel and tabbouleh and he ate both! While he takes after his father and me, being a major carnivore, he also likes his carbs. I originally came up with this recipe when he first started eating because I wanted a bread that was easy to chew, tasted somewhat sweet without a huge amount of added sugar, and was very low in salt.

The funny thing is, while he eats it fine, I've come to really love the stuff! I make it all the time. It tastes sweet without being cloying (my big beef with most store-bought banana flavored baked goods) and has a satisfying twist of spice. I also love how easy it is to make. You can simply mix it together by hand in a bowl. No creaming or beating required.

Spiced Banana Bread
Adapted from The Recipe Encyclopedia, 1995
Yield: one 4x8 loaf

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (see note below to mix your own)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
5 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup mashed, ripe bananas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 4x8 inch loaf pan by spraying with oil and lining with a parchment strip, if available (this simply ensures your loaf comes out intact - if you have a really good non-stick pan, this step is optional). In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, spice, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add to the dry mixture and stir just until combined. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool for five minutes before removing from pan to cool completely on a rack. Store in an air tight container either at room temperature or the refrigerator for up to one week. Baked bread can also be frozen for up to six months.

NOTE: You can make your own pumpkin pie spice by mixing 2 TBS cinnamon, 2 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp ginger, and 1 tsp cloves. The leftover spice can be saved for use in other recipes. You can also use regular, salted butter, the resulting loaf just won't be as low in sodium.

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