November 12, 2011

A Banana Walnut Bread to Celebrate Friendship

We are in mid November. Sweet, festive November.

Everything is gorgeous right now. Especially the weather. It rained last week, which is like awesome in this part of the world.

Well, I’m not here to talk weather. Not today. I’m here to celebratefriendship and birthdays. It’s the season to be thankful. To honor the occasion, I want to tell three awesome people—Tony, Hazra, Shaily—who celebrate their birthday this month, how much I value their friendship, how grateful I am to know them.

Better times, bitter times, fun times. And sometimes it’s just the thoughts, or companionship.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” Walter WinchelTrue. Disappointments in life can literally knock us down. A good friend makes room for us particularly when we are hurting, or just feeling a little under the weather. They give us the gift of time, offer their support, and give us confidence to keep going. And I have to say this: I’m privileged to have such graced friends in my life.

Tony, Hazra and I worked in the same organization. I'm a tad embarrassed to admit, but the truth is, I never spent much time with any of them. Yet, they were always there for me when I hit the lows. They gave me courage to face the world, and I'm forever thankful.

Now for Shaily. She’s this cute, smart, vivacious kid who lives in the same compound as I. We not only live in the same neighborhood, we used to carpool to campus where she was a student and I was an employee. Whats more, we even share the same birthday, ha. No wonder I connect with her so well.
Wherever in the world you are—strangers, acquaintances, family, friends—if you are reading this, come on, grab a glass and let’s toast to friendship.

Happy Birthday, my friends!

It’s customary to mark any celebratory occasion with food. And I’m celebrating with some bite. I have here a fabulous chocolate mousse cake from Patisserie Suisse, which says let’s celebrate—more appropriate for the occasion. Wait, you didn’t think that I made this gorgeous cake right? I wish, but I didn’t! What I did make is this homely banana walnut bread. Okay, it may not look impressive, especially next to the choco cake, but it tastes fabulous. In fact, it has become quite popular with my family in just two attempts—something the hubby, brother and son enjoys. Not one dissenting voice from the family, ah.

There is a story behind why I chose a banana bread recipe for today.

My friend Hazra’s baking skill is legendary at work. She mailed me her banana bread recipe immediately after I started blogging. Sure enough, I’ve been meaning to bake it for the past 10 months now. Yep, you heard me right—10 months, duh. When I finally decided to do her recipe, I was out of luck—the doc file where I saved the instruction was missing. So, I adapted this other recipe from one of my most trusted sources for new trials these days— Australian Women’s Weekly publication.

This is my first attempt at baking bread, and I was pleasantly surprised with how good it turned out. To be honest, I've never tasted a banana bread before. I’m glad I now have a recipe to use those brown, overripe bananas in the fruit basket, which otherwise ends up in the bin. It’s wholesome, nutritious and tasty too.
Banana bread or cake—whatever you call it—is absolutely easy and very versatile. You can make it using different flours, add fruits or nuts to your taste, or simply do it plain. You can even experiment with various topping—I’ve already tried chocolate chips, and spiced sugar.

This version is superbly moist and deliciously dense, and the banana cinnamon flavor works brilliantly. The scent when the bread is baking is wonderfully enticing.

Mama, can I have two slices topped with ice-cream?” my son asked, delighting in the waft that warmed the house the second time I was baking.

Yeah, he likes to pair it with a good scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sorry baby, you’ll have to wait until I take some pictures” I replied.

Ugh! Why don’t you switch on the exhaust fan then?” he said.

I smiled. I liked that he was impatient to taste it.

The original recipe asks for 1 cup chopped prunes, but I substituted ½ cup roasted walnuts for a nutty bite. I also did a topping with sugar and cinnamon that adds an extra layer of wonderful flavor. You can actually skip this if you can’t justify a bit of extra sweetness. But hey there are many fun ways to burn down the calories if that’s your concern!

The best bananas to use in this recipe are those that are as ripe and sweet as possible—the peels are pretty black at this stage. If you don’t use over-ripe fruit the bread turns out too dense.

As always, I went a tad nut on the photography. I hope you’ll excuse my obsession.
Banana and Walnut Bread
(Adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly Wellbeing Food that fight back)

Ingredients
1 loaf, serves 12

1 ½ cup (240g) wholemeal self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
100g butter, softened, plus more for greasing
¾ cup (165g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cup mashed banana
½ cup walnut, chopped coarsely
1 seeded prune, chopped coarsely

For topping
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 1800C/1600C fan forced. Grease 14 cm x 21 cm loaf pan; line base and long sides with baking paper. Grease the other two sides with butter.

Dry roast chopped walnuts in a pan over low heat, about 5 minutes.

Finely grate the zest of 2 lemons (2 teaspoons) into a small bowl with the softened butter.

Sift flour and cinnamon into a large bow; repeat three times.

Add rind, butter, sugar and eggs to the cinnamon-flour mix. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are combined. Increase speed to medium; beat until mixture is smooth.

Stir in banana, nuts and prune, and spread mixture into pan.

Meanwhile, mix the brown sugar and grounded cinnamon to make the topping. Sprinkle over the bread mixture in the pan.

Bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. Stand bread in pan 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool.

Cut into thin slices and serve with a schmear of butter or jam, if you like. The loaf can be wrapped tightly in a cling film and kept for 2-3 days—if you have leftover that is.
On a separate note, I’m delighted to announce that I’m on the panel of judges for the November 2011 Does My Blog Look Good in This? (DMBLGiT) event hosted by the lovely Nags of Edible Garden. I’m chuffed to be working with some wonderfully talented bloggers and photographers. You have 5 more days to submit your entries, and I look forward to seeing your delicious pictures. Good luck!

Finally, though I’m not using my facebook personal profile, I've created a fb page to interact with all of you. Creativity is deeply engaging, right? It will be a great pleasure to connect with anybody who is already on fb. You can even “like” my page, if you really like it, that is.

Until next time then, big love. Have a great week you all.

43 comments:

  1. ahh.. what refreshing clicks!!! There's nothing like good friends esp when life throws us down... I've tried baking buns before but they turned out hard as rocks!!! and my poor husband had to eat them... so after that i never ventured into it yet... but this recipe looks tempting enought to give baking bread one more try... what say?

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  2. Happy Birthday Madam, I don't know if it is belated or early....yes, friends add meaning and joy to life :)

    Love the bread, and the pics as always...the bananas and the basket holding them look very good....

    The banana bread is no less impressive than the cake, I must say

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  3. Congrats on being the judge of Does My Blog Look Good in This? !

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  4. I TOTALLY thought you made that chocolate mousse cake, you're talented enough to do it!! I have a real weakness for banana walnut bread...if I were your son, I'd have been a brat and thrown a tantrum for a slice, ASAP. Oh btw, never seen a banana walnut bread recipe with prunes, but I can imagine that it works well in there...you should try it with chocolate chips for a touch of decadence ;)

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  5. Beautiful clicks... Wonderfully captured and displayed..:)
    Cake looks super yum..
    Reva

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  6. such a lovely post with gorgeous pictures ! this looks really delicious
    hehe my birthday was yesterday! :P

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  7. Oh so gorgeous bread!! Stunning pics.. :)
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

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  8. Oh wow!!! This is such a wonderful post. The recipe and and the write up are all so good. And as for the photographs, may ask you how do you manage to photograph each ingredient with so much creativity??? Kudos and hats of to you :)

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  9. Happy birthday, friends! I raise my coffee mug to you and wish you all many, many happy returns...

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  10. Beautiful and creative as usual,nash.You seem to pull it off with such an ease.Love baking bread.started baking brown bread recently and now I never buy a loaf.It's so therapeutic and calms me down.

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  11. What a lovely clicks! The banana break looks soo inviting! Cant take my eye off the clicks!

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  12. mmmm.... I can feel the aroma here. Amazing and gorgeous cake recipe.

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  13. Banana bread looks so delicious and pcs are stunning. I can almost feel the touch of this cake.

    Deepa
    Hamaree Rasoi

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  14. Such a delicious blog. You have talent in taking nice pictures.

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  15. Lovely post,can't take off my eyes from those clicks..awesome looking bread..yum

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  16. Wow.. that looks delicious.!! Amazing clicks

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  17. What a beautiful nd tempting clicks nd bread dear.perfect.

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  18. Each one of these photos is better than the other!! You truly deserve to be a DMBLGIT Judge!!

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  19. Fabulous bread, gorgeous pictures and haven't heard the name Walter Winchel in decades (Good evening Mr and Mrs America and all ships at sea).
    Thank You, he was a great columnist.

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  20. those clicks r superb...each speaks a lot..love 2 have this bread anytime..

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  21. such an awesome post this is one of my fav @hotbreads they mke it so good n this looks better n more yummy.. love to bite some..

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  22. It is your birthday Month too, if I remember correctly.
    I would take the nutty banana bread over the chocolate cake anyday, because you made it.
    The pictures are awe inspring.

    Take care

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  23. Thank you people-- thank you for being so sweet and kind!

    Hey Sarah, you should try it… it’s easy as a pie. No surprises, really :)

    Aww, thanks Inud. You are so sweet my friend and right on time with the wishes… 18th is my b’day :)

    Ohh Arva, thanks for your confidence in me! I actually tried chocolate chip topping, next time I’ll try to mix it in the batter :)

    Reva, Prathima: Thank you lovelies!

    Sid!! It’s amazing to know that someone as sweet as you is a Scorpian.. mine’s tomorrow :) Happy b’day sweetheart!!

    Aww, Nisha thanks for your kindness. Now, only if foodgawker thought the same… :)

    Thanks so much Movita! ♥

    I agree Farwin, baking is therapeutic. And how.

    Hey Helen, thanks for stopping by!

    Thanks so much Ramya, Zareena, Deepa, Sharmi, Suja, Divya, Tina. Your continuous support is much appreciated!

    Aww.. thank you Chinmayie!

    Hi Anthony, thanks for checking my fb page. Yes, that particular quote from Walter Winchel is truly inspiring. I’m actually relieved to know that a lot of people go through similar experiences.

    Thanks Prathibha & Kalpana!

    Ani, you really make me smile. Thank you ♥

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  24. I should make this for my husband, banana bread is one of his favorites. Good luck with judging DMBLGIT, it's a lot of work but a lot of fun too!

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  25. A deliciozs cake! I'd love to smother some butter on one of those slices, mmhhh.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  26. yes i do empathize with u...when i had initially started the blog, it was all about visiting as many blogs possible, leaving comments, making an effort to post at least twice a week. Now i dont even ahve the energy to make anything blogworthy, leave alone visit other blogs and comment ..i do have a few i keep popping by though :)

    I have had terrible experiences with banana based cakes..we dont get the super duper ripe and sweet ones here so ive resigned to just using store bought ones which are def much much tastier than the ones i make :)

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  27. havent got around to baking breads successfully yet. but this recipe is tempting me! looks fantastic. and hey, novemeber is a month full of birthdays for me too - the mos important being my husband's :) am still breaking my head trying to think of which gadget to gift him with! oh and a cake that i bake maybe ;)

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  28. Hi Nash, I'm getting full with your gorgeous photos here. I love the stripe pattern cake. I really love your food styling - so much to learn from you. I can't take a picture of just ordinary banana so beautifully like you did it. You have a special touch that I just don't know what. :-) Delicious and marvelous post!

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  29. Hi my sweeety Nashi,
    Another yummy post! hmm,,thanks for sharing these awesome clicks :) your family is so lucky to have you..what a smart cook :) haaha
    well i want to see a close up of your paisley designed colorful plate..hmm,,seems nice :)
    Lots of Love *(*

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  30. Nashira your photos are capturing my interesst towards your lovely blog. I am just stunned...

    thank you for the banana bread recipe, I needed one =D

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  31. Nash I am in love with this space....Awesome clicks...Cant take my eyes off it....Bread looks very delicious...

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  32. Beautiful captures and the banana bread is such a simple and delicious thing!

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  33. Looks perfect and awesome. Would love to have it

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  34. Seductive combination between photography and cooking...ties invisible bonds between the eyes and the dream of a delicious taste...

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  35. Lovely post Nash!!! True friendship is a treasure... Love that this recipe uses wholemeal flour.. Nice clicks as usual!!!

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  36. Saying this again - lovely snaps :) ... Love this bread with wholemeal flour - Bookmarking this!!!

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  38. belated birthday wishes to your frens.
    you been getting featured all over; i dont have to sweat it out to get you featured ne where...i can take my time.

    answer my questions babe!

    i stopped saying wow clicks and recipes...you know why ;p

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  39. Hi..congrats on all the new reasons of celebrations, wishing u many many more!! Hope you are doing good..just like ur clicks :)

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  40. wow! so many great photos! everything looks great!

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  41. Nash - love this banana walnut cake/ bread, especially the crunchy looking top. Also, there is a lot of fun in this post. Thanks for sharing the joy with us:)

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A million thank you's for stopping by, taking the time to connect, and coming back to visit again. I genuinely appreciate each of your kind thoughts, lovely words, love and support. Happy, happy to hear from you, and hope to see you again!

♥ Nashi