For many years, all I ever wanted was to become a pastry chef. I spent years working in the pastry kitchens of several leading hotels in Jamaica. For those few glorious years, all my dreams were as rich as dark chocolate laced with Meyers rum and whipped cream. I was filled with the enthusiasm of youth, and proud of my prowess with a palette knife and piping bag. To this day, I still can decorate a cake in five minutes flat.
My most treasured possession was a small hardcover notebook that I kept in the breast pocket of my uniform. It was the fashion in my kitchen for every pastry cook to own a notebook. Whenever the pastry chef taught us something new, we would dutifully copy the recipe and in this way make it our own. This was long before the internet. Smart phones were unheard of. We learnt by making things over and over again until committed to memory. I still remember the recipe for pound cake as clearly as the day it was given to me. This notebook – this magical tome if you will; in a sense we were all sorcerer’s apprentices studying and learning from the master – contained all our secrets. Our recipes were jealously guarded and shared only amongst ourselves. My book was four years in the making, every recipe tried and true. It was a source of great pride and I often swore:
“If I ever lost my book I would stop doing pastry.”
I lost that recipe book in a minibus travelling from Ocho Rios to Montego Bay. I still ache at the loss. I’ve come to grips with it, and though I no longer work in pastry, I’m still in the kitchen. Recently I found a handwritten recipe for banana bread tucked away in a box of odds and ends in my closet. It’s the best banana bread recipe I’ve ever been fortunate to bake and taste. I’m lucky to still have it. In fact, holding that piece of paper in my hands inspired this post and the memories that come with it. It’s a part of me, a bit of my history, and in sharing I hope that you will enjoy this recipe as much as I have.
The best bananas for this recipe are overripe bananas.
I like to save the ones I cannot eat, ( it may be just one or two), by peeling them and storing them in the freezer in a Ziploc bag. Once I’ve accumulated enough, I’m ready to bake banana bread. There is no need to thaw the frozen bananas, plus thawing them attracts fruit flies. Oftentimes I add them into the mixer still frozen; the batter comes out just fine.
Jomo’s Banana Bread
I’ve posted this recipe with the original measurements. It’s my way of challenging you to invest in a simple kitchen scale. There are many different types available to the home baker – and, expensive or cheap, most will deliver the same results. A good kitchen scale is one gadget that anyone who loves to bake should add to their arsenal. So use a scale for this recipe, and I can guarantee the results will be moist, rich, flavorful, and utterly delicious.
1 lb. banana (the riper the better)
1 lb. granulated sugar
1 lb. baking flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. vanilla
8 oz. milk
4 oz. vegetable oil
This recipe works well without a mixer; a blender, a bowl and a whisk are just fine. Just blend the bananas and sugar, then add the eggs and liquids while blending. Then pour into a bowl and whisk in the dry ingredients. Finally whisk in the oil. The mixture should be pourable.
Bake at 350F for 45 min – 1 hour until done