Look, I get it: Baking your own bread (or BYOB, as it shall now be known, since none of us are bringing any beer or booze anywhere besides from our kitchen to our couch) seems like a cool hobby. You get a sourdough starter, and then you can brag about how the starter came from a mother starter from an incredibly charming bakery that's been open since the 60s or whatever, and then you get to talk about feeding the starter as though it's some sort of exotic pet that only the very privileged and very skilled can attain and care for. At this point, sourdough starters are just Sea Monkeys for adults, and I've already had Sea Monkeys, which my generally well-meaning mother accidentally killed when I was eight—worst of all, before their "Sea Diamonds," which I was promised they would "toss around like beachballs" and "'learn' to climb up and ride them as if they were surfboards," and their tantalizing Banana Treat™ even arrived via mail order.
So I'm not doing that again, and I'm not going to get into the kind of bread baking that leads you to obsessively post seemingly identical boules of sourdough on your Instagram day after day, expecting your followers to revel in the minute improvements of their crusts or craters. Not even having seemingly infinite
*pandemic free time *, moving into an apartment with a stacked double oven (its very presence taunting me to bake more), or reintroducing large quantities of carbohydrates into my diet can compel me to do so.
However, there is another type of quarantine baking that I do support, and speaking of Banana Treat™, it is that of banana bread, which requires NO stupid starter, NO stupid yeast, and YES all the overripe bananas that you already don't know what else to do with. And it might sound like I'm tooting our (MUNCHIES') horn by honing in on this particular banana bread recipe, but I assure you that it is truly, unequivocally, actually the best one out there.
But why is it the best? Here is an exhaustive list of reasons:
- It's incredibly easy, like, an eight-year-old could make it.
- It comes from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, who is an absolute cooking and baking goddess and everything she makes is so good I can't believe so many of her recipes are available for free on her blog.
- The chocolate swirl, which is absolutely crucial for people who want to die face-first in a tub of Phish Food, like me.
- MOIST! MOIST MOIST MOIST. If you hate that word, I'm sorry, but there is not a better word for that wonderful squishy doughiness that a perfect banana bread makes.
- If you're like me, you're constantly overestimating your own/need affinity for bananas, buying too many, and then watching them brown and rot on your kitchen counter before your very eyes like an existential Chia pet. Here's the perfect way to use them up before you have to perform the depressing task of admitting to yourself that they've become inedible, realizing that your home is now infested with fruit flies, and throwing them in the garbage.
- Virtually impossible to fuck up. I have made it 20+ times the proper way, but also many janky ways, including with freezer-burned bananas that I carelessly froze in a probably non-airtight container and exhumed and stuck in the batter like they were a Neanderthal man discovered frostbitten on a Nepalese mountaintop and brought into a laboratory. I also once used gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose, because that was all I had, and it still came out pretty good!
- You can share it with people and they will absolutely adore it and beg for the recipe, and you can tell them that it was actually concocted by an extremely popular food blogger and is hosted on VICE's very popular food website, but mentally they will still refer to it as "your" banana bread—"OMG, Hilary brought her banana bread, it's the best!" And you will feel slightly guilty but also like you're an amazing baker.
- Look how lovely the swirl is before you bake it:
...and after, too!
Bookmark it. Love it. Take credit for it. And then concede that neither you nor I came up with it, and send the link to your friends. But only the ones who deserve it—it's that good.