"I love the abstract, delicate, profound, vague, voluptuously wordless sensation
of living ecstatically."
~ Anaïs Nin, from a letter to Henry Miller, in A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, 1932-1953
This banana bread is my love letter to you. The first loaf fell. Literally. I had everything arranged for a photo shoot; slices splayed out in pseudo-haphazard fashion, errant scatterings of flour, an odd number of eggs peeking around the corners of wrinkled napkins, and a wayward scoop of ground cinnamon...everything was perfectly imperfect. Obviously my straight-laced background board felt left out of the peppered chaos. After one sip of coffee and an accidental nudge on the table with my pointy elbow, the entire scene folded in on itself. I laughed, uncontrollably, amid cracked eggs, a mangled bread loaf, flour-coated jeans & a slimy floor. This, coupled with snow on a Sunday in mid-April, broke the dam that had been held together with celery twine and thread bare hopes of spring. Honestly, I could not stop laughing.
After sitting on the floor in a pile of flour and inhaling a few surviving slices with a cold cup of coffee, I cleaned up the drama and went about making another loaf. Because I know you will be smitten. xo
Really though, this bread was scrumptious and I probably would have made it again anyway. Sometimes just hearing the words 'banana bread,' makes me stifle a yawn. This little gem is different. The pale batter takes on a dark caramel colour as it bakes and the top splits open, creating rivulets of caramelized brown sugar & toffee. Ah, the aroma alone...
If you use a gentle hand when mixing things together, the texture will be akin to a fluffy cake. My first loaf was a bit heftier - closer to traditional banana bread. (Thanks to a logic-depleted mind, my movements were lighter and looser during the second round.) I had a half empty bag of chopped toffee and chunks of dark chocolate waiting to be put to use but feel free to toss in any flits & bits (toasted nuts would be a welcome addition too!).
This recipe is breezy and comes together in a matter of minutes. If you avoid falling wood boards and have a few slices leftover by day two, the bread can be toasted and smeared, lovingly, with Nutella.
Cinnamon Toffee Banana Bread
makes one 8x5-inch loaf
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
2 room temperature eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup half & half cream (or whole milk)
3 very ripe bananas, gently mashed
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped toffee bits
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Move oven rack to lower third of oven. Preheat to 350 F.
Line an 8x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing for a 2-inch overhang around the edges. Spray entire pan with cooking spray.
In stand mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar on med-high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and cream; beat to combine.
Remove paddle attachment and switch over to a large rubber spatula. Stir mashed bananas into batter till combined. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Fold/stir dry ingredients into batter until just combined (try not to overmix). Finally, add chopped toffee and chocolate and fold till evenly dispersed.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, using a small offset spatula to spread the top into an even layer.
Bake 55-65 minutes, or until bread is dark brown and a thin tester inserted into center comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and place onto a cooling rack. Cool for about 20 minutes before using the parchment overhand to lift bread out of the pan. Cool completely before slicing.
adapted from the kitchn