It started as a no-brainer. One morning last week I spotted that the three bananas in my fruit bowl had suddenly got just a little bit riper than I like to eat. If I’m clever I notice I have more bananas than eating time. I peel them and freeze them and pull them out for rare smoothies. My new kitchen is obviously warmer than my last. These three ripened far too quickly and a wise woman might have simply thrown them away.
The thing is, I used to have this great recipe for banana bread, key ingredients 3 over-ripe bananas, sour cream and walnuts. Delicious it was and so my decision was made. A nice loaf of fresh sweet banana bread would be on the menu.
On a quick shopping trip on Wednesday I was chuffed I remembered the sour cream and walnuts. As I was about to check out I remembered I no longer had a loaf tin so quickly added one to my basket. There we are, I thought, banana bread was now ready to go.
I knew I hadn’t seen my favourite recipe for ages but a quick trip to the internet would sort that out. I googled “banana bread recipe” and got just over 31 million results. Vitally I remembered that I wanted a recipe that included sour cream and walnuts. Adding those two extra search terms meant I now had only 2 million results to sort through.
After some clicking and reading, I realised I’d forgotten a few more vital ingredients. I’d been congratulating myself for the fact I had flour in the cupboard but now I realised I needed butter, sugar, vanilla essence and baking soda. Doh, rather than dough.
So I went shopping again. Stood in front of the sugar and confused by the two million recipes, I played safe and collected granulated, caster and muscovado.
No sign of baking soda, I decided it must be an American term so added a tub of baking powder and another of bicarbonate of soda to my trolley, confident that Google would tell me later which to use. [The answer is, I think, bicarb of soda].
At least the butter was straightforward, I just didn’t know how much I needed so grabbed a large pack.
Vanilla essence… as I checked out the different brands I realised they were all much the same so would buy on price. The shelf tickets revealed that vanilla essence costs around €112 per litre. As Nan / Catherine Tate would say, “Fackin liberty”.
At this point I considered giving up on the banana bread and consoling myself with a couple of bottles of gin, a veritable bargain at €20 per litre. But I’d come this far, I decided, I should continue to the bitter end so gave in and bought the largest most expensive bottle of vanilla essence. After all, I figured, this would obviously be the start of regular weekly baking sessions.
At last I had everything I needed. Now just to decide on the recipe I would use.
Back to Google and I realised that all the popular choices were American with US measurements. Sod that for a game of soldiers, I re-googled, adding in UK or British. My search string was now:
Banana bread recipe sour cream walnuts “3 bananas” UK. I had three bananas I absolutely had to use up, hence the addition of the “3 bananas”.
Despite a further 10 minutes of searching through the recipes I really wasn’t finding a UK recipe for banana bread that was right for me. So far, all roads kept leading back to Janet’s Rich Banana Bread and Janet was clearly a jolly fat American who could make banana bread in her sleep. So I caved in and googled “American recipe cup conversion”, this would at least solve the problem of how much of everything I needed.
I quickly discovered that a “cup of flour” isn’t the same weight as a “cup of sugar” (yes, I’m a bit slow but I thought it was a volume measurement rather than weight) and that would have been fine except I couldn’t see how much “half a cup of sour cream” should weigh so would have to wing that bit.
At least all the recipes were promising me “10 minutes preparation time” so decided I’d just have time to prepare my dough while my dinner was in the oven and before I sat down to watch X Factor.
I set to. Just add the butter (damn, need to melt it first) and sugar to the mixing bowl. Mixing bowl, hmm. Hadn’t thought of that. In my recent move I’m quite certain I’ve not seen any mixing bowl so I knew I’d have to improvise. It was almost a large plant pot holder until I remembered I had an (unused) washing up bowl below the sink. A bit on the large side but it would have to do.
By the time I’d found the washing bowl and melted the butter my dinner was ready, plated and starting to go cold so I took a quick eating break and then got back to work. 15 minutes later I was standing, perspiring, over rather a large amount of dough. Still, I had followed the correct measurements and it all looked good so I poured it into my tin. It just about fitted. Rather a tight squeeze in fact so I put the tin on some tin foil so any overspill would gather there. 5 minutes into the 60 minute cooking phase I opened the oven and saw the dough already spilling over the sides so whipped it out and poured half back into a dish. By now the kitchen was in upheaval. Plates, spoons, microwaveable dishes, dough spills…
Put the tin back in the oven and with a sigh of relief sat down to watch an hour of TV. Back to the kitchen an hour later, discovered I must have turned the oven off when I took out the tin the first time. Turned oven back on, cooked the bread for 60 minutes, whipped it out of tin, added the remaining dough, cooked for a further 60 minutes.
Fell into bed exhausted just before midnight.
Input? At least €25 spent on ingredients in order not to waste three over-ripe bananas, only to discover Jolly Janet required merely two of them anyway. A kitchen in disarray. Untold electricity consumption. Several hours of my time.
Result? Two rather splendid loaves of banana and walnut bread. And one leftover banana that is going – straight – into – the -bin.