Julia’s Best Banana Bread

Julia's Best Banana Bread | Cooked and Devoured

I mentioned last time that we were going on a trip soon — we leave for Hawaii this coming Monday and I don’t think words can really express how excited I am. I’ve wanted to visit Hawaii for as long as I can remember and for a little while was saving up money in an attempt to go on my own in my early twenties. That never really panned out, so I’m grateful and happy that we’re going now, for two whole weeks! We never really took an official honeymoon when we got married at the end of 2012, so we’re counting this as our honeymoon. That’s allowed, right? I say yes.

Julia's Best Banana Bread | Cooked and Devoured

We decided we were going to do this trip sometime during the planning of our wedding, so we’ve been talking about it for a few years at this point. We’ve been doing lots of reading about the islands, as well as talking to people we know who have been there about where we might want to go, things we’d like to do while we’re there, and obviously, where to eat. During this process we learned that the road to Hana is essentially paved in banana bread.

Julia's Best Banana Bread | Cooked and Devoured

Banana bread is a thing in Hawaii. Lots of bananas are grown there, and when you have lots of bananas, making banana bread is one very easy way to get rid of them deliciously. It is apparently hotly debated which banana bread stand has the best loaf, but Julia’s Best Banana Bread came up quite a few times while I was reading about this, and when I saw that Bon Appétit had posted their recipe, I was curious to try it. I realize that it seems a bit odd to make an online recipe for something that you may have the opportunity to experience for real in a few weeks, but truthfully this was more about some deeply freckled bananas that would need to be used up before we left anyway.

To be honest, I was mostly curious because it seemed like the most boring banana bread recipe ever. No spices? No vanilla? There isn’t even butter. Or nuts. No rum? Of course these things are not required, but I’ve had basic banana bread before and it never really excited me. The ratios in this recipe also seemed crazy. It has about twice the amount of sugar and baking soda that I expected. It wasn’t so much unlikely to me that it could be good, but that it could be special.

Julia's Best Banana Bread | Cooked and Devoured

I was definitely wrong. While it doesn’t have any extra showstopper ingredients to make it stand out on paper, it is undeniably special. The sugar browns to a deep caramelization and extra-ripe bananas give lots of lovely black flecks inside a slice. I made two changes to the recipe that were completely inspired by the fact that they were what I had at home and I didn’t want to run out to buy anything. I subbed coconut oil for the vegetable oil (which seems appropriate anyway in this context) and white whole wheat flour for all purpose flour. If I had APF on hand I would have probably used it, but I really like using white whole wheat flour in baked goods anyway because it makes them extra dense and chewy. If you do this instead of using all purpose, make sure you don’t over-measure the wheat flour, and maybe even err on under-measuring it, because it tends to absorb liquid into a black hole and the bread can come out dry. Then again, this bread is impossibly moist and I doubt you’ll have much of a problem.

 

Julia’s Best Banana Bread

Barely Adapted from Bon Appétit from Julia’s Best Banana Bread in Kahakuloa, Maui

Non-stick cooking spray
1 and 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
3 large eggs
1.5 cups cane sugar
3/4 cup of coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a 9 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt with a wisk. In another large bowl, place the ripened bananas and then mash. Add the eggs and sugar and wisk everything together until mostly well combined.

Melt the coconut oil in a small bowl in the microwave, then pour into the banana mixture slowly while wisking the entire time (so that your eggs don’t scramble) until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. The bread will get quite brown on top, almost to the point that it may seem like its burning. Brown is what you want, black not so much.




Mango Blueberry Maple Cobbler

Mango Blueberry Maple Cobbler | Cooked and Devoured

Some days you just need to have cobbler for dinner, much like we did this past Wednesday. This probably isn’t a normally recommended course of action, but when given the choice between making dinner and dessert at 8pm, or just doing one of them…what would you do?

Mango Blueberry Maple Cobbler | Cooked and Devoured

To some extent I feel like summer has already passed me by. It really never got really hot here until the last few weeks. You know, that Chicago-in-July-hot where you can’t really bring yourself to do anything other than sit in front of an air conditioner and down the coldest beverage you can get your hands on. The one that I usually heavily complain about but now miss sincerely in a way that makes me wonder if I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Going out just about anywhere this week would think it’s practically halloween. Home depot has fall plants on display. Clothing stores already have fall merchandise in. We only just passed in to August and the world already wants us to think that summer is over. We’re going on a trip in a few weeks and when we get back it’ll be well into September. By that point summer really will be over and cobbler will not be in anyone’s near future.

Mango Blueberry Maple Cobbler | Cooked and Devoured

Going away always makes me feel like I need to take care of totally unnecessary things before I leave, even if actually leaving is still weeks away. Reorganizing the pantry? Check. Shredding old documents from the filing cabinet (after putting it off for a year before now)? Double check. Making this cobbler out of fruit thats been in our freezer for way too long? You betcha – because that’s totally important.

Mango Blueberry Maple Cobbler | Cooked and Devoured

I know you’re thinking, “she’s nuts,” and you wouldn’t be wrong. Though I love fresh summer fruits and this can certainly be made with fresh or frozen, if we’re being honest there was no real noticeable difference flavor or texture-wise. Using the frozen fruit does make it a bit more juicy than normal I think, but this can be fixed by simply baking for a few minutes longer to thicken the juices more. If I hadn’t already had these on hand, I wouldn’t have hesitated to buy fresh mangos and blueberries, but this worked and it is so good. It’s a great way to use up a lot of whatever you have around. I think it would have been just as good with any combination of fruit, but blueberry and Mango together are a fabulous combo; if for no other reason than the stunning magenta they produce when mixed together.

Mango Blueberry Maple Cobbler | Cooked and Devoured

In my crazy mind, the cinnamon and maple makes this a bit of a transitional dessert; we’re somewhere between summer and fall and so is this treat. It isn’t the sweetest cobbler I’ve ever had, but you won’t miss the sugar as there are plenty of other great flavors going on. My only regret was that I didn’t have any vanilla ice cream, and I basically spent most of the time eating this imagining how much better it would have been had I had some. Do yourself a favor and don’t forget that.

Mango Blueberry Maple Cobbler

Adapted from Martha Stewart

For the filling:
3 cups of frozen mango
1 cup of frozen blueberries
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
¼ teaspoon salt

For the crumb topping:
2/3 cup of almond flour (or ground almonds or other nuts)
¾ cup of all purpose flour
1/8th teaspoon of salt
6 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Measure out the frozen mangos and blueberries into a large bowl, then add the lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Stir well to combine and set aside while you prepare the topping.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, cinnamon, and sugar until combined. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or  your hands, until the mixture resembles coarse meal and sticks together when clumped. Continue working in the butter until completely incorporated and there are no dry crumbs.

Pour the fruit filling into a 9 inch baking dish and top evenly with the crumb mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until top is golden brown and the fruit juice has thickened considerably. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving (preferably with ice cream).