I've been feeling a bit out of sorts lately. But winter is here and I think I'm going to be ok. The whole place is lit-up for Diwali and if you stand in the courtyard at night, surrounded by all these imposing apartment buildings with fairy lights twinkling down at you from every balcony, it's hard not to smile. Besides, it's almost that time of the year when it's socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music and that, no matter how much my friends try to convince me otherwise, is always a good thing. Don't believe me? Here. You're welcome.
In other news, I signed up to take part in National Novel Writing Month but I'm afraid I don't have much writing to show for it. The silver lining however, is that in an attempt to put off the writing, I have been baking like my life depends on it.
One of the things that came out of this baking frenzy was banana bread. I really can't remember where I got the idea that I needed to bake some banana bread (and bake it now!), but I guess I just thought that somehow, if I sat down with a cup of tea and a plate of warm, fragrant banana bread, the words would flow. Or atleast make procrastination more fun (read: delicious). Now that I have eaten my way to the very end of the loaf, I can safely say that the words have not flowed. But I won't lie- sitting in the balcony, pretending to write while chomping on baked goods and trying to make friends with hostile pigeons has been fun.
The bananas we had lying around were not ripe enough, so while I waited for nature to work it's magic, I thought I'd make a smoothie to get my fruit fix. I made a batch with apples and bananas but it turned out to be really, amazingly bad, and with that my love for smoothie has been nipped in the bud. It really was a series of unfortunate events because soon after that incident, I discovered that the three bananas I'd kept aside to bake with had met with a slightly different destiny than I'd planned for it: they got eaten by a hungry cousin who was unaware of Project Banana Bread. Just so that the next contenders would not meet a similar fate, I had to resort to some extreme measures, but they worked well enough. Besides, mom tells me that keeping them wrapped in newspaper helps them ripen faster.
Although it was a bit of a wait (three. whole. days) before the bananas were ready, it was worth it. While this bread is beautiful when it's warm- it has a dense, tightly-packed crumb, and kind of like a hug in your mouth- the next morning I discovered that I also like eating it cold. The flavours are more muted and subtle. It also has a slight bite to it which is nice for a change. If you've ever eaten cake straight out of the fridge, you'll know what I'm talking about.
If you have candied ginger lying around, chop up a handful and add it to the batter. You'll be surprised at how well they offset the bananas. I didn't have any at hand but I did use chocolate chips which are just as yummy, if not as adventurous. Refrigerated, the bread easily lasts for 5-6 days; and it's so addictive that I doubt you'd ever have the problem of it lying around for longer.
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Adapted from The Fine Art of Confectionary.
2 cups flour
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons melted salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
¼ cup buttermilk or plain full fat yogurt
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Butter a nonstick loaf pan and flour well.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
In a microwavable bowl, zap the peeled bananas for 2-3 minutes. It makes the bread more moist. Coarsely mash the bananas (it needs to still be chunky) and keep aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs and to this add the bananas (including the liquid that seeps out after microwaving it) and the rest of the wet ingredients and mix.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold until the flour is fully incorporated.
Transfer into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until it is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.