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Banana Bread Cockaigne

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This month my Secret Recipe Club assignment was Rachel’s blog, The Avid Appetite. Cute name, and her recipes are great too!

If you’ve been reading a while, you know I have a banana bread obsession, fueled by my desire to beat a certain someone in this category at our state fair’s baking competition…which I have yet to do, despite many ribbons in other categories. As a result, I have shared 9 recipes for banana bread/muffins on my blog, and 26 more on my Facebook Fan Page in this album.  If there is a banana bread recipe on my assigned blog for the month, I usually have to fight my inner urge/obsession to make it and usually pick another recipe.  Usually.  But this time, I couldn’t.  It was the intriguing name.

Banana Bread Cockaigne (FYI it’s pronounced kah-kayne, not koe-kayne…big difference).  *Cue the harp music.*  I looked up the definition and it’s a mythical land of plenty, an imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease where physical comforts, and pleasures are always at hand (such as banana bread, but of course).  In other words, fairy tale banana bread! Therefore the editing on the first photo to make it look like it was living in a fairy tale – lol.

So does the bread live up to its name?  The lemon zest is such an interesting twist on the classic recipe and it does indeed give it an ethereal quality.  I was skeptical but it is a truly wonderful addition to the banana flavor!  I made this bread twice in one week (switching from shortening to butter, adding extra banana, a little oil, and toasted walnuts the second time to increase the flavor, moisture, and crumb) and sent some to work with Dennis to rave reviews. Then he got a romotion, so perhaps it really is fairy tale banana bread. :) Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe, Rachel!

Banana Bread Cockaigne

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 ½ cups (6 ½ oz / 182 g) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (5 1/4 oz / 150 g) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter (3 oz / 85 g)
¾ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cups (9 oz / 255 g) mashed ripe banana
½ cup (1 ¾ oz / 48 g) walnuts, toasted* and chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8×4 loaf pan** with oil; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar, butter, and lemon zest together. Add the oil and eggs and beat until well combined. Beat in the banana. Using a spatula, stir in the flour mixture until almost combined, then fold in the walnuts, being careful not to over-mix.

Spread into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Remove from pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

*To toast walnuts, spread in an even-layer on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave in 1-minute intervals, stirring with your fingers in between, until fragrant and toasted. Allow to cool before chopping.

**Most loaf pans are 9×5, which is fine to use, but your loaf will be fairly flat compared to the one in my pictures. You will also need to decrease the baking time – start checking at 40 minutes for doneness.

Recipe source: The Avid Appetite

Check out the link below to see the other Secret Recipe Club, Group C posts!



Virginia Street Banana Nut Bread

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George Geary (author of 125 best Cheesecake Recipes) presenting Marina with a second place ribbon for her Chocolate Truffle Brownie Cups for Ghirardelli Chocolates 2009

I announced Monday that two signed copies of Splendour in my Kitchen by Marina Castle are up for auction until Thursday night, to help raise a little extra money for Suzie’s gallbladder surgery.  (Click here for more details about half way down-there’s only one bidder so far, so you might get yourself a bargain while helping a good cause.)  This blue-ribbon banana bread (Marina has won many blue ribbons for it, actually) is just one of the many fabulous recipes found within the cookbook.   Though I’ve had the cookbook for a couple years, I just started making this recipe back in August and have been making it several times a month ever since, and lately in triple batches.  This is what I think of as a classic banana bread, but with a few twists that make it extra-special and a real treat.

Photo by Marina Castle

The best thing about this bread is its texture.  I have never had a better texture in a recipe for banana bread-it is so soft and smooth, it’s almost silky.  It is not too heavy or dense as some banana breads can be, but not fluffy as a cake either.  As Goldilocks would say, it’s juuuuust right.  It has a great banana flavor, scented with cinnamon, and the combination of nuts, sugar & butter on top give it dessert-quality decadence.

This recipe is also apparently indestructible.  I’ve been tripling the recipe and baking it up up in mini aluminum pans to sell in my sister’s shop and at the bake sale at work, and I’ve once miscalculated the amounts, and another time completely left the eggs out, and both times it was still good. Not silky smooth, but really good despite the errors.  Hey, I can get down with a forgiving recipe because I’ve had a lot of spazzy kitchen moments lately. LOL!  Anyway, if you’d like to bake up a ton of mini pans for holiday gifts, I’ve included a link for a large batch recipe so you (hopefully) won’t make my mistakes.


Virginia Street Banana Nut Bread

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture
Large batch recipe–makes 3 loaves or 10 mini loaves

1 ½ cups (13 oz peeled) mashed ripe bananas
1 tablespoon melted butter, divided
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 oz) granulated sugar plus 1-2 teaspoons, divided
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, divided

Preheat oven to 325F and grease a large 9×5 loaf pan; set aside.

Mix bananas, 1 teaspoon of the melted butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla in medium bowl until well mixed. Blend flour, 1 cup sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and add to banana mixture. Stir until mostly mixed, then add nuts, reserving some for the top,  and pour mixture into a large 9” x 5″ greased loaf pan. Sprinkle remaining nuts & sugar over top of loaf, then drizzle remaining melted butter over. Bake for 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes. Remove and finish cooling on wire rack until completely cooled.  Wrap well with plastic wrap.  Loaf is the better next day.

Makes 1 loaf.

Recipe source: rewritten from Splendour in my Kitchen by Marina Castle

Sugar-Free Banana Bread two ways

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My Secret Recipe Club assignment this month was The Ginger Snap Girl, and after scouring her blog to pick a recipe to make, I’m a little smitten.  Gloria and I have so much in common!  We’re both in our thirties, married about the same amount of time, no children except the animal variety, we both have day jobs, and we both LOVE to bake!  It was so hard not to leave comments on the many gorgeous recipes she has shared, but I was afraid I would spoil the surprise of who had her blog this month, so I kept mum.

There were so many recipes of hers that I wanted to make.  Pretty much every single one, in fact.  I mean, hello, the large majority are baked goods so of course I wanted to make them all!  I was reminded of my mother’s love for Boston Cream Pie when I saw Gloria’s recipe, though hers is a million times prettier than anything my mother ever purchased.  Then there was the glorious eggplant parmesan, a recipe that I’ve always wanted to try.  I thought about making her ginger snaps since she’s the “gingersnap girl,” but I decided against it because I don’t like ginger snaps (the only thing I’ve found that we don’t have in common-forgive me, Gloria!).  I still might make them for my Dad, though, who almost always had a bag of them stowed away when we were growing up.

The recipe I chose actually ended up choosing me.  I had a bunch of screaming bananas (you know, the kind that are so black they start screaming at you to use them) on the same day that I wanted to bake something sugar-free for the visiting diabetic preacher during our church’s gospel meeting.  I had bookmarked Gloria’s banana bread because, as many of you know, I’m on the hunt for a recipe that will beat my baking nemesis’ banana bread at the state fair next year.  I decided I’d try turning it sugar-free for Connie.  (Yes, the preacher’s a man and his name is Connie.  And his wife?  Bobby.  No joke!)

So of course I had to try it, because I’m not going to hand over a loaf of bread that tastes vile or might make our guest preacher violently ill.  I figured he’d forgive me for whacking off a hunk of his loaf for the sake of his health.  (My Grandpa always said, “I’m saving your life,” when he found our stash of candy and ate the whole thing.  So I guess I got this habit from him! haha)  I have had really good results using Truvia, an all-natural sugarless sweetener, in baking and again, I’m quite pleased with the results.  The loaf rose well, had a good texture, was perfectly sweet, but turned out just a tad dry, most likely because of the sweetener substitution.  I imagine the brown sugar lends moisture to the loaf that the Truvia didn’t.

While Connie loved the slightly dry bread, I decided to try making another loaf, this time upping the sour cream to 1/2 cup and using the NuNaturals MoreFiber Stevia Baking Blend that I recently got in a giveaway from My Kitchen Adventures.  This banana bread was the definite winner.  So unbelievably moist and soft and absolutely NO weird taste/aftertaste.  It was just like sugar-sweetened banana bread, but with a the softest texture in a bread I’ve ever experienced.  I think the baking blend was responsible for the texture since it says that it will help the texture of your baked goods, and I have to say I’m very, very pleased with this product.  Truvia works very well, but the NuNaturals baking blend works even better (so far).

Thanks, Ginger Snap Girl, for giving me a wonderful recipe to share with brother Connie.  Next, I will be trying the recipe as written.  If it’s this good without real sugar, just think how amazing it will be with brown sugar.  I feel a blue ribbon coming on. :)

Sugar Free Banana Bread

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 cups flour
½ cup Truvia or NuNaturals More Fiber Stevia Baking Blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large bananas, mashed (a heaping cup)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 drops NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia (optional)

Optional add-ins
½ cup chopped nuts
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom only of a large loaf pan; set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk flour, sweetener, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients, save the add-ins, until fully combined. Stir in the dry ingredients with a spoon or spatula until just combined. Batter will be thick. Spread into prepared pan and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For banana-nut bread, stir in nuts when the batter is barely stirred together, then continue stirring until just combined. Bake as directed.

For cinnamon-swirl bread, spread half the mixed batter into prepared pan, then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon, avoiding the edges. Spread remaining batter on top, then use a folding motion to swirl the batter. I did this by facing the pan horizontally in front of me, taking my fork and plunking it down on the far left side from me, then pulling it toward me and upward in a circular motion, then repeating it 2-3 more times, moving down the pan to the right. Smooth the batter on top and bake as directed.

Recipe source: adapted from The Ginger Snap Girl

Be sure to check out the other member’s recipes! Click on Mr. Linky below to view all of them.

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