Banana Bread with a Thai Twist
Friday, November 21 2014
One of my favorite memories from visiting Thailand with Marisa of Spirit House Connection is wandering the streets of Chaing Mai. The people were glowing. The food was lovely. The smells were intoxicating. The shopping was never ending. Despite its antiquity, the spirit of this city felt young and alive and adventurous. There were several women on this trip and I don't remember a thing we discussed but I remember laughing and laughing and laughing. We couldn't stop. Everything made us laugh. Hot food made us laugh. The currency made us laugh. Aggressive monkeys made us laugh. Tuk Tuks made us laugh. Things of every day Thailand that we'd been sharing for over a month's time just seemed so playful here.
One early morning prior to taking a day trip out of town, Marisa took us to a man on the street that made special sweet treats. He had every manner of sticky and sweet rice with fruits and sweet black beans and his tiny food stand filled the air like twenty busy cake shops. Of the many choices, I selected bamboo filled with sticky coconut rice and sweet black beans neatly wrapped in banana leaf. The warmed breakfast dessert steamed when I unwrapped the banana leaf package and I ate this simple treasure with a smooth stick. One can only guess how many of these treats this man had prepared but it is certain that he took great care to preserve the tradition of this simple delicacy.
Some sixteen years later, I am still imagining myself holding this warm goodness. I can still smell the hot mixture of sweet and savory and I am there, right now, in my mind.
The preparation of food is steeped in tradition no matter if you order take-out Pho or you make for the thousandth time your grandmother's Summer Tomato Vermicelli simply because it reminds you of picking vegetables in her garden. For me, cooking and baking is a tradition that I can share with someone I care about. It's your birthday, you get a cake. It's Halloween - let's make peanut butter cookies. You're not feeling well? I'll make you soup. On any day, regardless of the occasion, however, I love to bake banana bread and muffins. Banana bread is the apple pie of the bread family. It's a staple. It's at once the simplest treasure and the most comforting of treats.
For me, the holiday season (and the extensive baking) begins with Halloween. This is the time of year when we make excuses to be with our loved ones and houses brim with the smells of warm apple ciders and pine and, of course, banana bread. In honor of this gorgeous fruit, my memories of the sweet sticky rice man and our giddiness in Chaing Mai, I want to share with you my very simple banana bread recipe. I hope you enjoy.
Banana Bread (Muffins)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
You will need:
2 Medium to Large Ripe Bananas
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (White Flour can be substituted)
1 Cup Raw Cane Sugar
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Cup Coconut Cream (may be substituted with Almond or Soy Milk)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Table Spoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 Fresh Grated Teaspoon Nutmeg
+Optional: 1/4 Cup Walnuts, 1/4 Cup Raisins, 1/4 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips, 1 Tablespoon Black Strap Molasses to swirl on top of bread or muffins once they are in baking dish.
Combine dry ingredients. Chop bananas into 1/4 inch cubes. Toss bananas in dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Mix until combined. Mixture should be thick. If there is still dryness to the batter (depending on the size of your bananas), add up to 1/4 cup applesauce. Spray oil on your baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Rotate at mid-point. Makes standard two bread loaves or 10-12 standard muffins. Bake until golden brown on top and a fork comes out clean.