By Cal orey
During this time of change, isolation, and uncertainty, people are buying flour – lots of it – and baking bread. A few times my favorite bread has been sold out at the grocery store. Online stores? The price of flour is too high or offered in a 25-pound bag or out of stock. So, I took charge.
On Monday I did it. I got each and every type of flour imaginable. Inside my pantry there is a row of bags flour. I have cake flour, all-purpose flour, self-rising flour, and whole wheat flour. Do I feel safe? Nah. But the deal is I now know I can bake sourdough bread, muffins, scones, cupcakes, cake – and bread any time I want to do it. Being able to bake bread gives people a sense of control.
Flashback: During our challenging Great Recession I remember one December I took a trip to Safeway. I used one of my last valid credit cards. Like a squirrel in the fall, I stocked up on dried goods -- and flour. Why? Gosh, you can make pancakes, waffles, cookies – and banana bread. And yes, I baked a batch like I did this week.
2 eggs, brown, organic
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup European style butter, salted (save a small amount to butter loaf dish)
2 ripe, large bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Confectioners' sugar or raw sugar (optional)
In a bowl, beat eggs. Add sugars, honey, and butter. Blend in the mashed bananas and vanilla. Add flour to the banana mixture. Mix in half-and-half, sour cream, cinnamon and allspice. Fold in walnuts. Pour batter into a buttered 9 x 6-inch loaf dish. Bake the bread at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or till firm to touch. If the top browns too fast, cover with foil after 30 minutes in the oven. Cool for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar. You can serve warm or chilled. Garnish with fresh strawberries and mint or basil leaves for dessert. A pat of butter or drizzled raw honey can be a nice touch. Makes 8-10 servings. It freezes well.
Ah, the fresh aroma of banana bread is sweet and savory. When it’s baking in the oven and while cutting the first slice – it’s like coming home after a vacation – full of change. Banana bread is grounding and familiar. When we’re hit with tons of novelty – connecting with a familiar go-to food like bread feels like snuggling up to a best friend. Who wants a slice?
— Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is www.calorey.com .