Home Economics, yes the course, taught me kitchen skills. Healthy food choices, food preparation, food buying strategies and nutrition. I am certain, our class made savoury dishes, but they never stuck with me. I can’t remember any of them. Instead, my takeaways were baking fundamentals and a basic banana bread recipe.
I had baked before, but all by trial and error. The Grade 8 elective opened my eyes to the art and science of baking. I remember poring over the required textbook and reading about the anatomy of a whole grain, learning the proper measurement of ingredients, and the technicalities of over mixing/under mixing.
The teacher was disengaged, so the course was really about finding my own way, along with the text and unit handouts. This got me thinking — most often, people lack the basic knowledge bakers take for granted. Things like reading a recipe through several times so you understand what will need to be done, making sure you have the right ingredients, and knowing how leavening agents work. Some people have a fear of whisking or cracking eggs. I’m grateful, I’m not one of them. (Thanks Home Economics!)
In class, I found it soothing to learn that with a few simple ingredients (things most people have stocked), mixing up a batter and some baking, the final result was something magnificent. Banana bread is a quick bread that takes almost no time to convert bananas that are waiting to be succumbed by a fork, whisked with ingredients on hand, and popped into a hot oven.
Now bananas…I have a conflicted relationship with them. I only eat them when they are either unripe or when they are past their prime. No in betweens. When they are unripe and greenish, I slice them up and sprinkle with salt and pepper (Don’t judge until you try it). And when bananas get brown skinned and mushy, I make banana bread.
Everyone has their own banana bread recipe, but sometimes it’s good to push the envelope. I pondered on how to make my original banana bread even better. I thought the addition of alcohol, namely Crown Royal would add a bit of feistiness. What the what.
While I rarely drink, I do sometimes cook and bake with alcohol. I have a few liquors on hand for experimentation. Crown Royal, being one of them. Since Crown Royal is ubiquitous to South Asians. It appears, okay — is the drink of choice, at any South Asian function and enjoyed at home, when alcohol is being served.
Alcohol adds its own flavour to baked goods and enhances the individual components. The science behind this is that alcohol, even a small amount boosts the volatility of the reactive molecules of other ingredients, making them release stronger aromas and flavours. It heightens the subtle aspects of all ingredients. Note: Use alcohol sparingly. Don’t overwhelm a recipe with alcohol. Balance is key.
Along with the alcohol, there are several flavour layers to this banana bread. It is banana-y because of the mashed banana in the interior and the delicious banana slices on top. The addition of jaggery adds a molasses undertone that helps balance the flavours.
I’m convinced this is the best banana bread, like ever. I am well aware of other claims, but this recipe has evolved from years of love and tweaking. It’s moist with plenty of banana flavour. It’s pretty much perfection.
The thing I love about this banana bread recipe is that you can customize it in several different ways. Everyone likes their banana bread a certain way. Maybe you don’t like nuts, maybe you must have chocolate chips, or perhaps you want coconut. Add and subtract these additions to your hearts content.
Banana bread is a sign of love, I am quite certain of it. With banana bread, okay this banana bread — all is right in the world. Just mix, bake, and enjoy. This particular recipe is like love multiplied by a factor of a trillion. It is the perfect blend of feisty and nicety.
The inside has a subtle Crown Royal flavour while being dotted with gingery bits and crisp walnuts. The top has caramelized sliced bananas, walnuts, jaggery, and Crown Royal. It’s slightly crunchy, which is a nice surprise and contrast to the interior. It’s the most beautiful and delicious taste of comfort.
Your house will smell wonderful when you bake this, so perhaps do so before guests arrive (it’s always a hit). It will be tempting to cut into this bread while it is piping hot, restrain yourself. Let it cool, slightly. It will slice much nicer and taste better, if cooled.
It will keep well for a few days, though I am unable to comprehend how on earth that could happen. At the Lehail house, slice by slice this bread is gobbled up. It’s so good that sometimes, if there are leftovers, I feel guilty eating it for breakfast. It’s that decadent (Don’t fret, I get over that quickly).
You have no idea how much I wish I could share this banana bread with you, slice by slice.
Now you could eat it as is, but then you could go over the top with it. Let’s discuss that. While warm, slice it thick. Apply ample amounts of butter, peanut butter, or cashew butter. Then top with a generous mound of vanilla whipped cream. Maybe even a dusting of cinnamon. Enjoy!
Now go forth and bake.
Drunken Crown Royal Banana Bread
3 ripe bananas, mashed
¼ cup milk
¼ cup dark brown sugar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Crown Royal
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
2¼ cup flour
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped finely
1/3 cup walnuts
2 ripe bananas, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup jaggery
3 tablespoons Crown Royal
1/3 cup walnuts
Batter: Preheat oven to 375 Degrees. Grease a loaf pan with oil or butter. Mash bananas with fork. In a mixing bowl mix mashed bananas, sugar, eggs, oil, Crown Royal, milk, and vanilla. Add baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, and clove. Mix well. Add flour, crystallized ginger, and walnut. Mix only until incorporated. Do not over mix to keep some banana chunk in the batter. Pour batter into loaf pan.
Topping:In a fry pan, melt butter. Add jaggery, allow to melt. Add Crown Royal. Cook for a minute or two. Add bananas and walnuts. Cook until they caramelize, about 3 minutes. Pour the warm mixture over the batter in the loaf pan. Push the bananas down into the batter slightly. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.