This much we know: I don’t have the boatload of ginger I thought I had, while I do have a similar amount of sunchokes. Which caught me a little flatfooted. I’d spent a couple of days rolling ginger ideas around in my head, and I can safely say that none of them is transferrable to sunchokes. Not without a general response of : You’ve got to be joking. And that’s not a response most recipe writers enjoy hearing. At least I don’t.
The problem is that I had accumulated some ginger-related ingredients which are still sitting here like a penny waiting for change, as my husband used to say. Some bananas that were tired a few days ago are close to compost now, a mango is aging before my eyes, some coconut left over from a few classes ago is drying out, and lots and lots of limes need a home (got my work cut out for me there). Oh, and one lone piece of ginger the size of a fat thumb. But aging has concentrated the fruit flavors to the point that they’ll make a heavenly quick bread. It’s all making me think tropics, which lets me fantasize that the gale force Montana wind whistling through the windows is actually a trade wind suggesting palm trees begin their graceful sway. So I cued up Dean Martin’s classic version of “Sway,” (I know, a few too many metaphors mixing here, but work with me) and went to work. The sunchokes can wait until tomorrow.
Speaking of the future, this is a wonderful, brief article with a good short video. To watch, go here: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/05/04/an-optimists-tour-of-the-future/
TROPICAL GINGERY BANANA BREAD
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces room temp butter*
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, cracked into a measuring cup
2 or 3 very ripe bananas, mashed**
1 mango, peeled & mashed or fine-dice, depending on degree of ripeness
1 knob of ginger (about 1″) peeled, minced
Zest & juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup sweetened toasted coconut
You have some options for baking. I cook and bake for one, not counting my kind and helpful neighbors. I like to bake quick breads in mini loaves because it’s a quantity I can consume without feeling overstuffed; it’s also one that makes a good thank-you or hostess gift. You can double-wrap, freeze them and mail them to your children, too. You can certainly bake the batch in a conventional loaf pan, as well as in a 9″ x 9″ square pan. Be aware that each will have its own baking time. Bake at 350 degrees. Generally, the larger and deeper, the longer the bake time. For a conventional loaf pan, set a timer for 50 minutes, then test, and extend the time if necessary. For the mini loaf pans and a shallow square pan, start with 30 minutes.
* If your butter isn’t room temperature, you’ll have the devil of a time creaming it completely with the sugar. Set it on a plate, set that in a microwave, and nuke for 15 seconds on #1 power. You want soft butter, not melted butter. Room temp soft is when you can pick it up with a slight pinch, and your fingers just make a tender dent in it. Repeat as necessary, but it shouldn’t take more than two or three zaps.
** If your bananas are as ripe as mine, just peel them and add them to the batter without mashing. Mine are so tender that they’ll incorporate instantly.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Scatter the coconut over it, breaking up any lumps with your fingers. Toast in oven until
browned. Set a timer for 7 minutes, then check it. Coconut tends to brown very quickly on the ends and around the edges, so be prepared to stir it around with tongs. It’s going to have much more flavor toasted than if you throw it in raw.
- Set a sieve on a piece of parchment. Measure into it the flour, baking soda, and salt. Sift onto the parchment. Push any remaining lumps through with your fingers.
- Place room temp butter and sugar in bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle. Mix on low speed until incorporated, then raise to high and mix until pale in color. Stop mixer and scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula.
- With mixer on low speed, tip in eggs one at a time, allowing each to be fully incorporated before adding the next. When all have been added, stop mixer and scrape sides and bottom thoroughly.
- Add the bananas, mango pulp, lime zest and juice. Mix to incorporate.
- Pick up long edges of parchment holding the dry ingredients and tip them into the bowl. Mix on low speed just until no visible traces of dry ingredients remain.
- Add coconut and mix until blended.
- Pan-spray or brush with soft butter the pan(s) of your choice. Refer to baking times above. Bread is done when the top is a deep golden brown and the texture has a tight spring to it when tapped with your fingers. Let cool for 15 minutes before you de-pan, then let cool for as long as you can stand before cutting a slice.