Well hello there! It’s been awhile. Did you miss me? Probably not, but that’s ok. So I guess you could say I’m having some technical difficulties. About two days after I made that yummy roasted red pepper frittata down below, Crazy #3 decided to play a game of Monkey in the Middle while I was cooking dinner. The only problem is that none of the other crazies seemed to realize she wanted to play. So there was no monkey, and no one to put him/her in the middle. Oh, and instead of tossing a ball, or a pillow, or even a meat cleaver (seriously, I think that may have been a better option) she decided to toss my camera. My much loved, egg/marinara/cake batter crusted, very expensive DSLR.
So until I either A.) Win the lottery, B.) Save my pennies, or C.) My husband takes pity on me, I have no camera and no way to write How Crazy Cooks. But I do have lots more free time which I’ve been using to catch up on some things, like cleaning up my photo library. I deleted over 10,000 unnecessary pictures today. 10,000! That’s craziness. Most of them were food shots, since I normally take anywhere between 200-300 photos per recipe, even though only a handful wind up here. I also had quite a few out of focus, eyes half closed, not looking at me shots of the crazies. But there were a surprising number of random shots of feet, rear ends, backs of heads, and the unruly yellow meadow that is otherwise known as my backyard. These all came from my phone, and I can only assume were taken by the crazies. It’s amazing how fast kids these days figure out technology!
So anyway, while I was going through all these photos I realized I made this banana bread last month, and never shared it! I just can’t leave banana bread alone, and I assign all the blame for that one on the TastyKake people. I grew up in Northeastern PA where TastyKake is king. You can’t walk two feet into a Turkey Hill or a 7/11 without running smack dab into a TastyKake display. They make these things that I think are called banana cakes? Or banana treats? Or banana something…it’s been a long time since I’ve been home. But they are basically little loaves of banana-like bread with frosting. Since my Mom is not a baker, we always had TastyKake goodies in the house when I was growing up. Ever since then I can’t just make banana bread and not top it with some kind of frosting, glaze, or crumb topping. I prefer the crumb topping these days since the frosting and glaze tend to rub off on the foil I store the leftovers in…and it’s just not attractive when your husband walks into the kitchen to find you licking frosting off tinfoil. I’m just saying.
Start with some ripe bananas, flour, vanilla, ground allspice, ginger, cinnamon, brown sugar, pecans, dried cranberries, softened (room temp, not melted) butter and cold butter (not pictured), baking soda, salt, and eggs.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with your butter wrapper, or some non-stick spray, and line it with parchment paper.
Start with the crumb topping. I actually got this recipe from…my Mom! Why on earth she had it I’ll never know. I don’t think my Mom has ever made a crumb topping anything in her life. But she gave it to me years ago, when I had just moved out on my own and I wanted to make a crumb pie. It’s been my go-to crumb topping ever since, for everything. That’s why (as you’ll see later) you’ll have leftovers. For this recipe I just add pecans to it. These were pecan pieces but I still wanted them a little finer so I gave them a chop.
Combine the pecan pieces, brown sugar, and flour in a large bowl.
Now using a pastry blender, or two forks, cut the butter into the flour, sugar, and pecans.
You know that part in Finding Nemo when Dori is singing, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming?” Well whenever I’m using a pastry blender, I sing the same thing in my head. Except I change “swimming” to “going” and I actually sing it out loud. I’m sure in the summer when my windows are open I keep my neighbors entertained. Anyway, this takes a little while and involves some elbow grease, but just keep going!
Now sift together the rest of your flour, baking soda, and salt.
Now add your spices.
And whisk them in. Or, you could not be like me, and just sift the spices in with the flour, baking soda, and salt.
I never said I was perfect.
Now cream together the softened butter and brown sugar. I did this in the bowl of my stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer I highly recommend using a hand mixer, but you could also do it by hand. It takes more effort that way but in the end you’ll be closer to your Angelina Jolie arms then me!
I stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. A lot. I’m a little OCD about it. You don’t have to do that, but make sure it’s all well incorporated.
Now beat two eggs and add those in the bowl.
Then mash up three ripe bananas and add those to the bowl as well.
Along with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
Now it’s time to add the dry ingredients. You don’t want to over mix this, but I don’t like to get a cloud of flour in my face. What I normally do is add in the dry and sort of fold it in with a spatula. Then I turn the mixer on low and let it run just until everything is mixed. Maybe 10-15 seconds. This seems to work best, for me, to minimize the flour plume. Remember, I live near Seattle. I’m pasty white enough as it is due to the lack of sun. I don’t need any help in that department!
See? Mix just until combined. The batter will obviously be lumpy from all those bananas.
Now fold in the dried cranberries.
And spoon it all into your prepared loaf pan. Use the back of your spatula to even out the top. Or, just bang it on the counter a couple times to level it off. I’m not gonna lie, that’s what I normally do. But I made this while two out of three crazies were napping and I didn’t want to risk waking them up.
Now sprinkle your crumb topping over the batter. Note, you won’t use it all. You just want a nice even thin layer. I didn’t measure, just use your best judgement. You can refrigerate whatever is left over and use it on anything you want. Baked oatmeal, muffins, another loaf of this bread, a pie…whatever your heart desires. It lasts in the refrigerator a good long while.
Now just bake at 350 for about an hour. Cover it with foil for the last 15-20 minutes of baking to make sure the pecans don’t get too dark. I was enjoying my peace and quiet and totally spaced on that step! It still tasted yummy. It’s done when a toothpick or a butter knife comes out clean.
Cool 5-10 minutes in the pan, then use the parchment overhang to lift it out and cool on a wire rack. Cut yourself a nice thick piece while it’s still warm and slather on some buttah baby! It just melts right in. If you can’t see it, the calories don’t count. Right?
- FOR THE CRUMB TOPPING:
- ⅓ cup pecan pieces
- ¼ cup flour
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cold butter
- FOR THE SPICED BANANA BREAD:
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground all spice
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup softened butter
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan with butter and line with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and pecan pieces to make the crumb topping. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar.
- Mix in eggs, vanilla, and mashed bananas until well blended.
- Add flour and mix just until blended. Do not over mix. Batter will be lumpy.
- Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. Smooth top with back of a spatula.
- Sprinkle a thin even layer of crumb topping over batter. Refrigerate leftover topping for another use.
- Bake in preheated oven for about an hour, or until a knife inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cover with foil for the last 15-20 minutes of baking.
- Cool 5-10 minutes in pan, then use parchment paper to lift loaf out of pan. Cool on a wire rack, or slice and serve warm.