By SARAH KELLY
Mid-way through the semester, we begin to perceive the drawbacks presented by the change in seasons. A cold chill pervades the air, accompanied by what seems to be an ever-present drizzle. It doesn’t help matters that it is this time of year the workload looms ominously, along with constant worry and a case of the sniffles. A long way from the hope the holiday season presents, we drudge through the next few weeks carrying a vague feeling of sorrow. At times the only solution seems to be a retreat beneath the covers for a good wallow; while the wind blows frightfully without and the television crackles merrily within.
I find that when stress begins to overwhelm, a little bit of muddling about in the kitchen is exactly what I need to get me through the day. I’m all for the virtuosity of a yoga class, but one can only remain in downward dog for so long before getting a bit peckish.
I have included a recipe for banana bread that is bound to lift even the most despondent spirit. From the first stir of your wooden spoon, your anxiety will be placated. Upon the first bite of its sweet density, your blood pressure will decrease and your eyes will glaze over with contentment. That 46 percent on a biology exam will now be the last thing on your mind. The 12-page paper you have due for tomorrow will now be a breeze to complete. This comforting loaf is the embodiment of happiness and harmony.
This bread is rich and yet not overwhelming. Best of all, it is free of any perplexing raisins or walnuts that are forever weaseling their way into perfectly good sweets. It can be easily doubled if baking for a crowd. In fact I would suggest you take this route, for I find that within minutes of this loaf’s materialization the appetites of friends and family have an uncanny way of making it disappear.
1 cup all-purpose flour, slightly overfilled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 extremely ripe medium size bananas
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup bourbon (OR another tablespoon vanilla)
loaf pan, or 2 mini loaf pans
Set the oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, first mash the bananas with a fork until there are no remaining lumps. I consider this to be the most stress-relieving part of the recipe. Next, put the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Place on high in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds or until melted. Pour the melted butter into the mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs, sugar, vanilla and bourbon with a wooden spoon until combined.
Mix in all the dry ingredients slowly until just combined. Be careful not to beat the batter for too long, however: this will lead to a toughening of bread. When your mixture is combined, first take a moment to resist consuming the uncooked batter. It will be tempting, but you must use restraint.
Spray the inside of the loaf pan with non-stick spray, and pour in the batter. If you do not have a loaf pan, foil pans are available at most grocery stores that are both affordable and convenient. Place in the oven for one hour. After this time, test to see if the bread is done by inserting a wooden toothpick. If the toothpick does not come out clean, leave to bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cut into generous slices and serve.
I hope this recipe will serve you as well; I wish all of my readers a wonderful week and hope you may find comfort in baking in the midst of any dreariness.