i don’t pretend to be a professional chef. i cook like a poor man, and i pride myself on that. i don’t use fancy ingredients, extensive chemical reactions, or obscure tools. poor man cooking is based almost entirely off of improvisation and a deep knowledge of the ingredients i choose to use.
suffice to say, i am truly atrocious at baking.
i have the soul of a linguist, not a chemist. i couldn’t follow instructions when cooking if my life depended on it. and honestly, when cooking most things, that isn’t that much of an impediment. sometimes things end up a little salty. sometimes they end up too spicy. sometimes the texture is a little bit crispier than i meant it to be. it happens to the best of us.
baking, however, requires extreme attention to detail with irreparable consequence for negligence. if you are making a pork roast and forget to add salt, your roast will be a little bit bland. if you are making cookies and forget to add baking soda, you will end up with strange, wafer-thin, super crunchy single serving piles of opaque candy glass.
in other words, when cooking, the texture and flavor of what you cook are informed by the ingredients you choose to include and omit. in baking, the texture and flavor of what you bake are informed by the reactions that take place while you assemble the ingredients.
in other words, i respect my girlfriend immensely. she can whip up some absolutely amazing baked goods with what seems like nothing more than a flick of the wrist. for a few months, she has been suffering from baking withdrawal (what with japan having no ovens big enough to fit pies, large cakes, or reasonably sized cookies en masse). and so, when my piece of crap 1980s recycle shop toaster bit the dust, i decided to get a toaster oven that actually worked.
when i took it out of the box, it dawned on me that it was without a doubt bigger, shinier, more energy efficient, and more powerful than its predecessor. as i set it up, it spoke to me. it said, “poor man, use me to make baked meatballs chock-full of ham and garlic. please.”
unbeknownst to me, it also spoke to my girlfriend. and somehow it could feel the longing in her heart resulting from two months of oven deprivation. it told her something entirely different. apparently it said something along the lines of, “zoe, start making banana bread and don’t stop until the sight of bananas makes you physically ill.”
and so she did. and it was amazing.
poor lady’s coffee bean banana bread
- 1/2 to 1 cup butter (this is lenient. i like a whole lot of butter.)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 to 4 large overripe bananas (more bananas=more banana taste)
- 1 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1 t baking soda
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 t vanilla
- 1 bag (any size; you can never have too much chocolate) chocolate covered coffee beans
- preheat your oven to 177 celsius (350 fahrenheit). if you have a toaster oven, you will probably want to wait to do this until later.
- peel the bananas. place them in a bowl. start mashing. mash ’em good.
- in a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. beat in the bananas. i like to hand-mix everything but you can use an electric mixer if you like, just make sure to leave the bananas a little lumpy so the bread will have little pockets of surprise flavor.
- in a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt.
- add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended.
- fold in chocolate covered coffee beans.
- grease 3 mini loaf pans or line them with parchment paper. fill the pans each about halfway.
- bake about 30 min in a toaster oven, longer in a conventional oven. the toothpick test is a good one for this.
- when finished baking, take the bread out of the oven and allow it to cool completely before removing it from the pans. or, if you’re like me, eat it immediately. but not all of it, because this bread is even better chilled.