Saturday in Ottawa. It’s funny how we only lived here for two years, a few years ago, yet I feel I know my way around better here than I do at home in the Fraser Valley, where I’ve lived for a full 20 years. I have no idea why that is, but, for someone who’s terrible at directions in general, that makes it feel like coming home.
Friends were generous enough to offer us the full use of their home while they were away, and it’s so nice to be spending time as a whole family again. Granted, Carl gets a lot less school work done between me “suggesting” he come with us on outings, reading bedtime stories, and letting me sleep in (I even woke up late to the smell of bacon and eggs :), but it’s well worth the missed class or two. This more extended stay also allows time to catch up with some fabulous people, and the kids might even get in the “pyjama day” they’ve been begging for after seeing a cousin in her pyjamas on Skype one afternoon :) They’ve been amazing troopers, going from one house to the next, visiting with complete strangers like they’re old friends only on my confirmation that “these are really nice people, you’ll have fun!”, so I think a day of pyjamas and TV is well deserved.
None of this, of course, has anything to do with banana bread :) Just go with it, and trust me, the banana bread more than speaks for itself.
I think we all know enough about the small edibility window boasted by bananas, that fine line between green and nose-wrinkling brown spots. This fine line is less obvious to children, so I definitely have fewer over-ripe bananas than I would living alone, but sometimes it still happens. And sometimes it happens to the grocery store, and they sell ripe bananas for cheap by the bagful, and who doesn’t love a cheap bagful of bananas?
My Mom certainly loves a bagful of bananas, so after she bought some a couple weeks ago I turned them into this banana bread recipe I’d wanted to try. I tend to think all banana loaves are basically the same – some take more bananas, some less sugar, some more flour or oil – but essentially, they all taste like bananas. Banana is not a flavour you can mask in baked goods, so I don’t like to try. Either it tastes like banana and we call it as such, or we leave the bananas out of it.
So yes, this banana bread certainly tastes like bananas. However, there’s another flavour there too – the tang of cream cheese! Blending cream cheese into the batter with the butter makes this bread rich and decadent and denser than typical banana breads. This isn’t as almost-mushy as some banana breads can be: it’s denser, softer, and still really moist. Add a crunchy cinnamon-sugar streusel on top and you have a perfect bread to go with your morning coffee, or, if you’re like me, your 8:00 pm tide-me-over snack. I’ve made cookies with cream cheese before, and then it was more for texture than for taste, so I was pleasantly surprised that the tangy-ness came through in this banana bread along with the slight texture change, especially since banana IS such a dominant flavour.
If you have 3 ripe bananas, I highly recommend trying this yet-one-more banana bread recipe, because a person can never have too many banana breads when the mood strikes. And like any good loaf recipe, it makes two, so you can have company galore or freeze one for another day :) Now my only challenge is to find a way to keep that topping crispy on day 2, 3, 4, and 5 – the bread is still perfectly moist and delicious, but if anyone has a way of recapturing that fresh-from-the-oven topping and crust crunch, I’d love to know about it!
- ¾ cup butter, room temperature
- 1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, regular or light, room temperature
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large, ripe bananas, mashed well (about 1 cup)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8½" x 4½" or 9" x 5" loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside (they will be slightly taller in the smaller pans, but the cooking time is the same).
- In a large bowl, cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes (don't rush this step!). Beat in the eggs, vanilla and mashed bananas.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until completely combined.
- In a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients until combined and crumbly.
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle with the topping.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes until the bread is rounded and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Remove from oven and let rest in pans for 5-10 minutes before running a knife around the edges to loosen and turning out on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Recipe barely adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, originally adapted from Belle’s Bazaar.