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September 29, 2020



Those loaves do look good.
I just threw away three very ripe bananas. I considered banana bread, which I love, but these days my cooking seems to outrun my capacity to eat what I make. Two problems: (1) As a teen, I cooked for a family of 8 and, apparently, I find it difficult to scale down. (2) I amuse myself by shopping online. I'm learning not to put the order in.

Did you know that bananas stored in the fridge will turn brown on the outside, but stay nice on the inside much longer than at room temp? A tip from a bartending boyfriend from long ago.


Arlene - yet strangely, bananas put in the freezer turn black and turn into banana soup on the inside.

Allison McCaskill

I did NOT know that about bananas, this is very valuable information! "The miracle of the loaves" made me think of one time when I was the overnight person at a respite care home for developmentally disabled children and I tried to make muffins from a mix and miscalculated. So. Many. Muffins.


Allison - I have to confess, I can’t tolerate opening the black refrigerator bananas, even through I know they’re good inside. Mom could, though.

Big Dot

I just read today about frozen bananas working well in banana loaf. You take them out to thaw while you're creaming the butter and sugar, and then just pour them into the mix. Apparently the loaf is less stodgy this way.


Big Dot - the Americas Test Kitchen recipe has you do this. Usually I don’t plan well enough to freeze the bananas.


Back in The Days We Had Bananas, I didn't plan *well enough* to not perpetually end up with some leftover frozen bananas hanging out in the freezer. I can verify they're gross to handle when thawed, but really excellent for banana bread (or banana nut rolls, yum).


KC - I can’t even imagine what a banana nut roll is. Have to look that up.


I make quick banana nut rolls as:
banana gloop
1/2 as much milk as banana gloop (you can use 100% banana gloop instead of part banana, part milk, but then they are too banana-y for me)
dash of vanilla
Add enough bisquick (or similar) to make a soft but not excessively-sticky dough
Sprinkle flour/bisquick on the countertop, pat out the dough into a 1/2" rectangle about 10" by however-long-it-makes.
Spread lightly with soft or melted butter, sprinkle with light brown sugar, sprinkle with chopped nuts.
Roll up a la cinnamon rolls (so you have a however-long-it-makes cylinder).
Cut into pieces (usually a little longer than 1" but less than 1.5", but it doesn't enormously matter).
Put in a pan with a little space around them for rising, but not a ton because you want them to meet each other (so if you have an 8*8 pan and your rolls are a bit over 2" wide, then do 3*3, that sort of thing). (optionally: put some brown sugar and butter in the bottom of the pan first, but that tilts them towards dessert more than breakfast.) (also: if you cut them unevenly, put the larger/taller ones around the outside of the pan and the shorter ones in the middle so they all bake through.)

Bake at 375F until browned (I'm afraid I always went by the smell and was usually distracted, so I'm not sure how long this was, unfortunately, but somewhere around 20-30 minutes?).

It's a little biscuity, a little caramel-roll-y, and banana-y, and once you get the eyeball for how much bisquick to banana gloop you need and can just dump it in, it's *incredibly* fast to turn out (like, less than 15 minutes start to oven). I assume you could make banana nut rolls yeasted instead, but with breakfast foods I am all about minimum time spent, generally, and these turned out well for me every single time (although of course tasting different depending on how much sugar I added and what the proportions of banana and milk were!).


(and I just remembered that your body hates sugar and carbohydrates. Endorsement retracted!)


KC - The photos looks like a banana bread / cream cheese jelly-roll (or what the Great British Baking Show calls a Swiss roll). That sounds like a great thing to make and impress people. That’s going in the recipe book (I will probably look up a version that give exact amounts of banana gloop).


Oooh. Swiss roll or jelly roll with banana cake around cream cheese sounds *really good* - but is totally different from the easy cheater banana-nut rolls. What I'm talking about are more like these, but with banana/milk instead of egg/milk to moisten the bisquick, and with a different "filling" in the roll-up [nuts and brown sugar instead of cinnamon-sugar]. http://www.familyoven.com/recipe/bisquickie-cinnamon-rolls/89841

But yes, I understand wanting, like, at least some *basic* quantities for a recipe you've never eaten, made, or seen made before! (I just fail to have them. Maybe someday I will be not-sick and I will make them again and then I can weigh the bowl after adding each ingredient and get actual *quantities* for things, and maybe even *gasp* time how long they're in the oven for at what temperature...)

(for 8 years, none of our student housing involved an oven whose temperature could be at all trusted or which corresponded to any other known oven, so I ended up baking everything with either adjusted-to-this-specific-oven times and temps or, for things like this, just baking it by feel. There was a lot of baking by feel... )


KC - I don’t know why, but Bisquick was never part of our pantry growing up. I can’t think of why; we weren’t snobs, we had Shake and Bake and Potato Buds. I bake by smell, usually. I do a little baking by feel: home-made pasta feels a certain way. Chou pastry, too.


Non-snobs can still just have a recipe/method they like better for whatever of the biscuit/pancake/waffle family they like to eat. My mom went for bisquick for pancakes, waffles, and the shortcake for strawberry shortcake, though (and maybe sometimes for biscuits, but rarely?); we didn't have potato buds or shake & bake, though. (but the little packets of taco seasoning, spaghetti seasoning, and chili seasoning were how we got to tacos, spaghetti, and chili respectively, and jiffy muffin mix was just where cornbread came from, so my mother's suspicion of pre-processed foods does not extend in all directions, I guess)

And yes, pasta dough and choux pastry have to be accomplished by "it's done when the dough looks like/feels like/does this" rather than rigid things, unless you've got a perfectly controlled lab environment or something...

I'm a fan of baking by smell for most things. Wedding cakes 100% get timers for when to check them and when they should be done, though, and also everything gets weighed out to the last gram; if you're making three tiers of the same cake, you want each tier to come out the same height (which takes math all the way along, since cake rises higher in smaller cake pans than in wider cake pans, so the smallest tier needs less batter-by-volume than the next one, and you also need to adjust the time and temperature and when you've *finally* cracked the code so you don't have to trim any off of the cake to get it the right height, it all goes down on an index card and next cake gets the benefit of the Precision Experience.).

Anyway! Some rare things get precision; everything else gets variably sloppy but much faster methods, and it works out...


KC - the dowels! You didn’t mention the dowels! That was the only wedding cake disaster I am familiar with.


There are many roads to disaster that a wedding cake can take, really....

It's not a disaster if the top tier is taller than each of the lower tiers, but it's a common "oh, yes, that's a homemade cake by someone who hasn't figured out the pan rising stuff yet" indicator.

I personally like bubble tea straws instead of dowels, since they're less likely to crack the cake (you're not displacing an area of cake, but cutting through it with a thin-walled pipe); they're also way easier to cut and have no splinters or treated-wood mystery chemicals. The one time I used dowels, they were pre-cut to size and I coated them in white chocolate so they wouldn't be directly against the cake.

I once almost dropped an entire cake while getting into the car with it. Turns out that it's *hard* to very slowly and gently squat and sit down when you're carrying over 60 pounds of cake and frosting... But! I didn't. So far, actually, I've escaped irremediable wedding cake disasters - I've had near-enough-to-a-disaster things to know that my lack of actual total disasters is not due to cleverness/perfection on my part, though.


KC - dowel coating is the only thing white chocolate is good for.


Depending on your position on yogurt raisins, I would posit yogurt raisins, which were much beloved in my childhood. But otherwise, low-quality white chocolate isn't really good for anything except dowel coating and similar decorative uses, yes.


KC - it is an abomination, and it contains no chocolate.

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