Forget lemonade; when life browns your bananas, make banana bread

Todd and I are going to a meeting at a friend’s house tonight regarding Patrick’s language course for the fall, and most normal people would get their supplies together, such as the syllabus, notebooks, and a calendar. Since I am first to say that I don’t fit into the “normal” category, I am bringing cinnamon scones, banana bread, and banana bars with cream cheese icing. Every so often, I have an urge to bake. A lot. Last time this urge hit, it happily coincided with the bake sale the kids did. Today, I can use my baked goodies to help people relax and get more excited about teaching their kids grammar and writing skills. (Doesn’t everyone equate those two things together? No? Just me?)

In any case, as you would imagine, we go through a lot of food in this house, and my kids especially love fruit. It follows, then, that I love summer because there are so many different kinds of fruit in season right now and we are loving the plums, nectarines, and berries. As a result, however, the poor bananas were neglected in the basket and turned a lovely shade of brown. Brown is lovely, in my opinion, when you’re a handbag or a banana because in the latter’s case, you become the base for any number of delicious sweet treats. I found a recipe for a banana chocolate chip bundt cake a few years ago that is wonderful. Banana bread or muffins are always a good choice. And the banana bars that I made this afternoon are looking especially yummy. I got the recipes from three different websites that are referenced below, but the next time you have bananas that look like they’re good for nothing, consider mashing them and creating something delicious.

Frosted Banana Bars
(taken from http://www.allrecipes.com)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed bananas

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting them with cream cheese icing.

Cream Cheese Icing
(taken from http://www.simplyrecipes.com)

1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
2 – 3 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

With an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness. Either spread on with a blunt knife or spatula, or spoon into a piping bag to decorate your cake or cupcake.

Best Ever Banana Bread
(taken from http://www.virtualcities.com/ons/ky/l/kyl49012.htm)

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream sugar and butter. Add bananas and eggs, beaten. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda 3 times. Blend and add to banana mixture. Turn batter into two greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Turn out to cool on rack.

Note from me: I almost never add as much sugar as any recipe calls for, and sometimes decrease it by 1/3 without any loss of sweetness, in my opinion. This post seems to be heavy on the syrupy side, so if you’re wallowing in a sugar coma just reading the recipes, feel free to leave some out.

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