Baking Makes Me Happy

I will be the first to ‘fess up to the fact that I am NOT a domestic diva.   I am nowhere near close to being crowned the next Martha Stewart or being monikered June Cleaver (although for some odd reason, I like the idea of serving dinner in heels and pearls).  Dinner is often a fast food affair and when I do cook, it’s often with disasterous results (or decent results and then a 2 hour battle to get everyone to eat their meal without complaining!)   All that being said, however, I do enjoy my time in the kitchen when inspiration strikes, I’m not feeling rushed or pressured and all things go as planned.

I often find baking a great pick-me up.  I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation that has to do with the smells triggering emotional responses, blah, blah, blah… but really, it just comes down to having fun and putting a smile on my face.  I tend to achieve better results (or at least better customer satisfaction – and my monkeys are two tough customers!) when I roll up my sleeves, don an apron, and facedown the mixing bowl than when I’m faced with having to come up with yet another chicken dish that will keep everyone happy.  I have a huge recipe book collection and an even bigger clipped and/or bookmarked recipe collection amassed from the internet, magazines, friends, tv, etc.

Despite this gargantuan mess of recipes, many of which I am still waiting to try – one day, I have my failproof, fall-back favourites.  One of these is my mom’s Banana Bread recipe, which of course I’ve tweaked a little.  I’ve probably shared it before, but I have never (okay, rarely ever) had a flop with this family favourite. (So much a favourite, even the in-laws enjoy it and my sister-in-law requested it as the cake to celebrate Mom & Dad Brown’s anniversary tonight.)  Originally a zucchini bread recipe, perhaps from an old Unico oil cookbook, it works well for banana cake, loaves, muffins, etc.   

Mom’s Banana Bread

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar  (the original recipe calls for 1 3/4 cups but I find it works just as well with a single cup!)
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 or 5 ripe, mashed bananas

Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl.  In separate large bowl, combine eggs, sugar and oil.  Alternately add milk and dry ingredients to egg mixture.  Add bananas and vanilla.     (If using stand mixer, combine dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients all together and mix until well blended, then add bananas and mix some more.) 

Bake in preheated 350°F oven for approximately 40-45 minutes.  (Check at the 35 min mark if you desire.  My oven is slightly warmer so it takes about 35 minutes to do a bundt pan or two loaves.)

As a cake, it’s delicious with a fluffy cream cheese frosting, topped with walnuts.  One of these days, I’d like to try it with a maple frosting.   I’ve also done a streusel topping if baked as loaves.  It’s perfectly delicious on it’s own and our usual serving method is warm from the oven, sliced and slathered with some butter!  Yum!  \

I also use my garden fresh zucchinis in the recipe but it’s more of a feel-it-out type of thing than an exact recipe.   Usually, I’ll grate a zucchini and use just 2 bananas;  everything else remains the same.  It makes a slightly denser cake.

Successful baking is like a warm hug from someone you love – comfort from the oven!  No wonder it puts a smile on my face.

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