How is it that we’re more than halfway through January? The three-week stretch before the holidays felt like the longest and slowest marathon of parties, get-togethers, preparation, shopping and errands and then Boom! time moves in lightning speeds.
It was lovely to spend some relaxing time with our loved ones once the flurry of pre-Christmas stuff settled down. The beau’s brother and his girlfriend flew in for the holidays, so it was quite a treat to have the entire family around the table on Christmas Eve. I remember when we were kids, my cousins and I were too eager and impatient for everybody to show up so we could eat then open our gifts. As an adult, one thinks about how to keep the kids preoccupied so we can enjoy each other’s company in peace. On the beau’s side, the girls are old enough that they engage in our conversations–they have very interesting things to say! We don’t have to give them toys and talk over the noise of their toys! Ha. On my side, my nephews are four and five, living and breathing dinosaurs, Transformers and Angry Birds. They can be really blunt and honest, which make gift-opening around the tree hilarious. You never really know how they’d react or what they would say. Oh, I don’t like that! [My gifting success average has been great so far when it comes to them. I pick items based on what I would like if I was a kid. Now what does that say about me?] Christmas reminds me of how fun it was to be very young and carefree, but then I’m glad I can sit back and appreciate the comfort of, and being with, family.
Living in a beautiful city–a prime winter destination at that–means getting a chance to repeatedly explore it like tourists whenever friends and family visit. The beau and his brother love skiing so a day trip to Whistler during their short stay was a no-brainer. Vancouver being Vancouver, it did take a bit of wrestling with weather scheduling, but in the end one should just go and prepare for the worst. It wasn’t a great snow day for our skiing companions, but the rest of us who roamed the village and took the leisurely gondola ride between Whistler and Blackcomb didn’t have much to complain about the view and the powder.
After all the celebrations, we slowly got back into our routines, including baking. It’s one of the things we truly enjoy doing as a couple, plus it warms up the kitchen, fills our bellies, and leaves the whole place smelling like freshly baked bread, cake or pastry. We had a few lonely bananas that we were more than happy to save from their their misery, so it’s banana bread time. We changed things up and used the recipe from the Miette cookbook. My go-to recipe requires sour cream and this one doesn’t, so this saved us an extra trip to the store on the first day of the year. I’m glad Jens picked the recipe because it’s so yummy! Not that I expect anything less from Miette, really, but it’s a good reminder that it doesn’t hurt to try to recipes. I love the delicate crumb, surrounded by the firm and almost-crunchy crust. Essentially, this is a good, solid, banana bread recipe that tastes more sophisticated than most. And that’s all you need to know if you’re looking for something to bake this weekend. :-) If you have the bananas, I’m sure all the other ingredients needed would already be in your pantry.
You’ll also soon find out how baking this Miette bread snowballed into a baking trend for us this January. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you would already know the insane baking that ensued.
Makes four small 5-inch loaves or two standard 8-inch loaves.
- Nutty Streusel
- ½ cup (2 ounces) pecan pieces
- ¼ cup (2 ounces( firmly packed light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup (1½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- Banana Bread
- 2¼ cups (11 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ cups (10½ ounces) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 4 medium soft, but not black, bananas (about 1 pound total), peeled and roughly mashed
- ½ cup (2 ounces) pecan pieces
- Butter four 5″x3″ loaf pans and dust with sifted flour. Tap out excess flour. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Make the Streusel
- Pulse all the streusel ingredients in a food processor until coarsely combined. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate. If using immediately, just keep in the food processor bowl and refrigerate. The streusel can be kept for up to 5 days.
- Make the Banana Bread Batter
- Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Whisk sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed in a bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer. Mix until well combined and lighter in color, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed and drizzle the oil until just incorporated, then add the banana mash and mix until combined as well. Add the dry ingredients and pecans into the batter in three additions; each time whisking until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
- Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Generously sprinkle the tops with streusel. There would be enough for the two big loaves, and more than enough for the three.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes for the smaller loaves and 45 to 50 minutes for the bigger loaves, until the breads have risen nicely and a tester inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean. Place pans onto wire racks and leave for 20 minutes to cool.
- Slide an offset spatula along the sides of each pan and invert the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool for another 20 minutes. Serve immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.