There's an interesting mental dichotomy that develops when you find yourself in a position to call whatever you do from 9 to 5 your "day job." This implies what whatever it is you're doing, there's something else you secretly you wish you could do and be paid for. If you run into someone who loves his job, he'll just call it work, perhaps even with an enthusiasm you find slightly alarming. This may cause you to think to yourself, "What am I doing wrong in my life, that I should consider my daily occupation a means to pay the rent more than a means of personal fulfillment?"
And to that, I say to you, it is time to consider the lives and work of the fabled greats -- our superheroes. Take, for instance, Clark Kent. The guy can fly, but he's in a close-minded world that will only accept him as some sort of freakshow who devotes all his spare time to keeping planes from crashing. Does he like working at the Daily Planet, being bossed around by a woman he'll never have the cojones to ask on a date? Doubtful. Or does Peter Parker like being a lowly photographer at the Daily Bugle? Does the Green Lantern like being a cartoonist? Waitaminute why do they all work for newspapers?
Well, my point is that even fancypants Bruce Wayne would rather be traipsing around beating up bad guys on the dirty streets of Gotham than stuck in meetings overseeing how other people spend his money. So if you spend a great deal of your day eagerly anticipating returning to your "secret life" lived at night, you are not alone. Now I am by no means encouraging anyone to abandon their hopes of someday turning their part-time passion into a full-time profession. But if there are circumstances that prevent you from doing so, I urge you to continue your moonlighting with great relish. Those I've met who are able to maintain this balance are certainly my own personal heroes.
Excuse me while I change into my cape. Ahem.
And so, on to the recipe!
Banana Nut Bread
This recipe from JoyofBaking.com is an impeccable creation, though my photo will not do it justice. The resulting bread has a rich caramelized taste, which was surprising to me given the use of white sugar instead of brown. Find the recipe here.
- This recipe lacks a streusel for the top of the loaf, but I think it's an appropriate omission. The bread is complex enough, between the nuts and the bananas, and the taste holds its own.
- I used an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan, which required slightly more attention to the top of the loaf to prevent it from burning. As a general rule, most recipes will tell you if the top of your quick bread is browning too fast, you should make a loose "tent" over the top with aluminum foil. Just put some foil over the bread (with a little space in between the foil and the bread so that the bread is not smothered) and bend the aluminum foil around the shape of the pan. I perform this step with oven mitts on -- if you're removing the still-baking loaf from the oven to create the tent, the loaf pan will be very hot.
- The recipe directs you to toast the nuts prior to baking, but this is a delicate step, as the nuts can easily burn. Because I am lazy, I skip it entirely, and have not found the resulting bread to be deficient in any way.
- Storage: If you are serving this bread the day after baking, simply wrap the bread tightly with plastic wrap the day before and leave it on the counter at room temperature. I find that refrigerating it for a day does not yield benefits proportionate to the cost of having to warm it up when serving.
- Serving suggestions: The dense nature of Banana Nut bread lends itself to being cut into thick slices and then cutting each slice in half prior to serving. Some eat it with cream cheese, but I like it plain.