An admission must be made: I am not the best baker on the planet. Though I am a crack tart maker and meringue master, I have been known to produce more than my share of lopsided cakes and leaden brownies.
Maybe it’s because I lack the precision that good baking requires. Roasting, sauces, stews and such seem so much more forgiving since you can tweak everything up until the moment you serve. Baking on the other hand seems like an alchemical reaction: if you blend all these things together in the right amounts at the right temperature and in the right sequence, something altogether different emerges from the oven after all that toil and trouble.
Sometimes I do get bitten by the baking bug. Motivated to do something with a bunch of bananas ripening too quickly in my fruit bowl, I decided to make banana bread. However, lacking the two loaf pans that the recipe asked, I halved all the amounts, guesstimating what a 1/6 or a 2/7 might be. To my surprise, it turned out beautifully. Moist crumbs, not too sweet, a little tangy, and very delicious.
1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/6 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups coarsely mashed very ripe bananas (3 large)
1/8 cup crème fraîche
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup walnut pieces (4 ounces)
How to prepare:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and line 1 (9- by 5- by 3-inch) metal loaf pan with parchment paper.
2. Stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.
3. Beat together the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until very thick and pale. The mixture should form a ribbon when the beater is lifted, about 10 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the oil in a slow stream. Mix in the bananas, crème fraîche, and vanilla for about a minute. Fold the flour mixture and walnuts gently, but thoroughly, into the batter.
4. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, spreading evenly. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer comes out relatively clean, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool the loaf in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning it out onto a rack. Turn the loaf right side up and cool completely.