“A baker should never let distance stand in the way of sharing.” – Flo Braker
My mom was doing a visit to her youngest sister in Bombay who is convalescing from a period of illness.
I have the fondest memories of this precious aunt. She was the star in the family. Growing up, I was always asked to look up to her, and with good reason…
Quite an all rounder in her time, she was equally good in academics and sports. A sprightly character with a care free attitude. she was pretty too, with her flawless skin and petite structure. And, she had deep sensitivity toward others.
We were a joint family of seven in a tiny Bandra flat, all of us huddled together, like a bunch of fresh sardines, set to be sold in the local market.
Night times were great. My grand dad and grand mom would occupy the small bed on the side of the wall, my mom and another sister on the adjascent little bed, my uncle under the table near the kitchen, and my youngest aunt and I, in the middle of the room, on a mattress with pillows. She would fervently sing to me each night, melodies of the mid seventies, in her not so melodious voice. I thought nobody could sing better…it provided an overwhelming sense of security. Soon after, my parents shifted base to Kerala, and I missed her bitterly then.
When I had my Summer hols and we did trips to Bombay, she and I would religiously go together to the Paan shop, buy 2 meeta paans each (sans the thambaakku), and stick them to the farthest corner of our mouths. We’d viciously grind those beetle juices with our teeth, extracting every sweetish pungent flavour, and aim for the next big gutter to see who would shoot best. She would laugh heartily at the lightest jokes and it would take her a while to get her bearings back. We had to wait for her to finish enjoying the gleeful moment! Life’s precious and fleeting flavors, sigh!
So, my mom was going to Bombay and I threw myself into making two of my aunt’s favourite cakes…A Carrot cake and, her absolute favorite, Banana cake.
Now when it comes to a good banana cake, ”we want it moist, we want it delicious”, quoting Peter Reinhart from “Crust and Crumb”, and that is all.
Have tried many variations in the past, and nothing matched up…it was either too bready or it was too dense.
We have fantastic baby bananas in Kerala, one of the most delicious and varied flavours that the Earth can offer. And I wanted to maximise on it.
Flour’s Famous Banana Bread, Re-printed with permission.
Makes one 9 – inch loaf
210 gm All purpose Flour, 1 1/2 cups
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
230 gms Sugar, 1 Cup + 2 Tbs
100 gms Canola Oil, 1/2 cup
340 gms Mashed Bananas, 1 1/2 cups
2 Tbs Sour Cream
1 tsp Vanilla
75 gms Walnuts, 3/4 cup
Position a rack in the centre of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F ( 162.78 degrees Celsius). Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan.
In a bowl, sift together Cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment,( or a hand held mixer), beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. If you use a hand held mixer, the same step will take about 8 minutes.
On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Don’t pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding it should take about one minute. Add the bananas, sour cream and vanilla, and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and the nuts just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible and the nuts should be evenly distributed.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hrs. or until golden brown on top and and the centre springs back when you press it. If your fingers sinks when you poke the bread, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool in the pan or wire rack for atleast 30 minutes and then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.
The Banana Bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temp for upto 3 days. Or it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for upto 2 weeks. Thaw overnight at room temp for serving.
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