Though I am, on the whole, a fairly easy-going person, on occasion an event will occur that leaves my blood boiling. For about an hour I will fume quietly, my insides churning, head throbbing and stomach twisting into knots that’d baffle even the best boy scout and I’ll assume the expression of a “black cloud,” as my mother always used to say. All I can think about when these events occur is just how angry and upset I feel, and how, no matter how hard I try, I simply can’t shake it. I know it’s ridiculous, completely melodramatic and, well, childish, but dammit, that’s the way I feel and I’m entitled to it.
What can one do in such situations? Very little, usually, as when I’m in such a state I don’t want a hug, I don’t want to see or talk to anybody, all I want is to be left alone and to bake the stress away. The methodical measuring of ingredients, of following a recipe to the ‘T’ and (more importantly) the time spent away from the thing that has angered me, helps me to ease it all away. Baking is my meditation.
Banana bread is usually my go-to stress-bake when I’m in such a mood, as I was yesterday evening. This particular recipe I found in the excellent Peyton & Byrne book, gifted to me by a very wonderful friend and it’s so good I barely change a thing (except omit the nuts and maybe add a banana or two, depending on how many I have ripening in my fruit bowl). I admit, I usually only buy bananas just to use in this recipe when they’re nice and ripe – if you leave them too long and they’re practically black, store them in the fridge immediately then use within the week.
So if you see me thumping equipment around in the kitchen, don’t talk to me until I’m done or prepare to have a bowl thrown at your head.
Recipe adapted slightly from Peyton & Byrne: British Baking.
200 g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
125 g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
200 g light brown sugar
3-4 ripe bananas
60 ml buttermilk (or 30 ml full fat milk mixed with 30 ml runny natural yoghurt)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsps caster sugar, for sprinkling
900 g loaf tin
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
2. Butter the tin and line the bottom with baking paper.
3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Set aside.
4. In a small-medium bowl, mash the bananas and set aside.
5. Melt the 125 g butter then pour into a separate bowl, sift in the brown sugar and, using electric beaters, whisk until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
6. Add the mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla and mix well with a spatula.
7. Sift in the flour mixture and fold in until just combined – do not overmix. Pour into the prepared tin and sprinkle with the caster sugar.
8. Bake for 35-45 mins or until the loaf springs back to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Will keep for 3-5 days in an airtight tin.
9. Enjoy with a cup of tea and feel the stress easing away.
Until next time, peace and love.