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Top Banana

February 29, 1996|MARION CUNNINGHAM

The center of my universe has been in chaos for two weeks.

My kitchen is undergoing remodeling for the first time in 28 years, and during this siege I have had the use of only my ovens. Sawdust covers everything, the contents of the cupboards sit in bags and boxes, and the only utensils on the counters are hammers, nails and saws.

Being a displaced cook has its small rewards. I suddenly appreciate things I have always taken for granted. Bananas, apples and oranges top my list. These friendly fruits, sitting clean and tidy inside their skins, are a bright and reassuring sight on the window ledge. At the end of these disruptive days, a sandwich often suffices for supper with the cheering addition of a baked banana.

I have often wondered why something as easy and good as baked bananas are seldom made. Warm baked bananas taste even more like bananas than cold bananas, and somehow anything caramel-like is absolute perfection with them.

I've also made Kona Inn's banana bread several times these last weeks, and my popularity with the carpenters has risen after sharing; this dark, sweet banana nut bread is quite special when served warm with softened cream cheese. I made one recipe using half all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat flour; this made a very nice, earthy, moist bread. Try to use very ripe bananas for the bread; they should have brown spots covering the skin but not be blackened and mushy.


2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups sugar

2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 6 medium-size bananas)

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup chopped walnuts

Stir together flour, salt and baking soda. In separate large bowl, mix shortening, sugar, mashed banana, eggs and walnuts. Add dry ingredients and stir until batter is thoroughly blended.

Pour batter into 2 greased and floured (9x5-inch) loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes clean, about 65 minutes. Start checking for doneness after 45 minutes of baking. Let bread cool in pans about 5 minutes. Turn loaves onto rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 loaves, about 12 servings.

Each serving contains about:

473 calories; 220 mg sodium; 71 mg cholesterol; 25 grams fat; 59 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 0.70 gram fiber.


Serve these warm with a little cream or maple syrup.

1/3 cup butter, melted

3 tablespoons lemon juice

6 firm, ripe bananas, peeled

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon or ground ginger

1 cup grated coconut, optional

Spread melted butter and lemon juice over bottom of shallow baking dish that will hold 6 bananas. Stir butter and lemon juice together until blended.

Turn bananas in dish until well coated with butter mixture. Put sugar and cinnamon in small bowl and stir with fork to blend thoroughly. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over bananas.

Bake bananas at 375 degrees until butter begins to bubble, 18 to 20 minutes. Turn bananas over once after 10 minutes. Sprinkle coconut over bananas about 5 minutes before they finish cooking.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

226 calories; 107 mg sodium; 27 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 35 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.57 gram fiber.

* Dalzell Viking plate from Bristol Kitchens in South Pasadena.

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