Wanna know what’s great about summer? Pitted fruit. And by that, I of course mean fruits with pits in them. Not fruit that has been pitted (pits taken out).
I’ve always been frustrated with terms like ‘shelled’ and ‘pitted’. Shouldn’t it be deshelled and unpitted? It’s a lot like ‘dethaw’, which really just means to put back in the freezer, right? Because if it’s thawed, then it’s thawed, but to dethaw would mean refreeze. And shelled shrimp, to me, means ‘shrimp with a shell on.’ I know. This is a battle I will never win, just like my argument that even numbers are inherently easier to remember than odd numbers and sound better when rolled off the tongue.
Bushels and bushels of pitted fruits like cherries, peaches, and nectarines make me a happy camper. A couple of weeks ago, we had a case of white peaches that were so off the charts juicy and delicious, I ate the whole case in three days. Unstoppable. The other day, rather than giving the girls each giant bowl of popcorn to chomp on while watching their movie, I filled up bowls with quarter-size blueberries and they polished off each berry without a single whine of “Where’s my damn popcorn, woman?” I love the convenience of fruit in the summer!
Wanna know what’s super annoying about summer? Bananas.
I’ve yet to figure out how to bring home 5 bananas from the grocery store and place them on our tiered fruit rack (just like I do every single day of the rest of the year) without them turning brown by the next morning’s Cheerios pour. I should stop buying bananas in the summer, but I can’t. There’s something about being a mom where you feel completely inadequate as a parent, and generally as a human being, if you don’t have at least two bananas on-hand AT ALL TIMES.
Have I mentioned that I won’t eat a banana if it has one fleck of brown on it? I just won’t. See above re: odd numbers. I’m weird ok? So if it’s not 99% yellow with a 1% hint of chartreuse green streaks, I have to figure out an alternative. And that is always banana bread.
Sure, I found this recipe in my mom’s Small Parties cookbook, under the “Weekend in the Mountains for Six” party menu, and it’s like 127% humidity outside right now, and all I can do is sit in a chair and sweat watching Ryan Lochte look his best when he’s not speaking and just swimming, and the last thing anyone wants to do right now is bake. BUT, if for some reason you will be in the mountains this weekend with friends and you’ve got some cool breezy air (we don’t know what that is here in New England this time of year) blowing through your windows, then I think you should make this.
Or, if you go to reach for one of those peaches and a goddamnsonofabitchin fruit fly or two emerges from the basket, blame the bananas and bake this bread, right away.
The lemon glaze makes it all worth it. I made one loaf of bread and about 10 mini muffins that I took to our neighbors. I’m nice like that.
banana lemon oatmeal bread (page 108, Small Parties)
5 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut in small pieces
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 cups flour
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup poppy seeds (I kind of think these are a must for this bread. I just do.)
zest of 1 large lemon (about 2 teaspoons), finely grated
1 teaspoon lemon extract
juice of the zested lemon (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup)
2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease and flour two 9x3x3 – inch loaf pans. Set aside.
Place the bananas in the work bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Measure the puree. It should be about 2 1/2 cups of puree. Clean food processor and chop walnuts in processor, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar, milk, and oil with a wire whisk attachment for 2 minutes on medium speed, until light yellow in color.
Take of the whisk attachment and put on the paddle attachment. Add the flour, oatmeal, baking soda, and salt. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed, using a spatula to scrape down the sides. Batter will be stiff at this point.
Add the banana puree, walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest, and lemon extract. Beat for two minutes on medium speed.
Divide the batter between the two loaf pans, spreading the batter evenly, and place on a middle rack of 350-degree oven.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean. (Use a wooden skewer to test bread by placing in center of loaf.) Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan before turning out on baking racks.
Drizzle the tops of bread with glaze; cool completely before slicing.
Makes 2 loaves.
Whisk the lemon juice and powdered sugar together until a thick consistency forms. The amount of powdered sugar will vary depending on amount of lemon juice extracted from lemon.
NOTE: This bread can be baked a day or two ahead, then glazed before serving. It freezes well also (without the glaze).