It’s Monday morning. Labor Day. We’ve spent the weekend playing board games over beer late into the night, eating way too much ice cream for two humans, sipping amaretto liqueur by the fire, falling asleep to massages, and giving our hearts over to the film, Grandma. I woke up early yesterday morning to flip through some cookbooks I picked up at the library, including a prized gem titled Puerto Rican Cookery. The cookbook, which was written by a husband and wife, includes rich descriptions about the time of year and the right occasions to serve different foods. It’s important to us that our house is filled with the smells of Puerto Rico, as well as all our other favorite classics. While flipping through endless plantain recipes, I remembered that we had a bundle of overripe bananas and I had promised to turn them into bread.
In the morning, I put water onto boil for fresh tea and sit in the front room with sunlight burning through the shades. Kevin is snoozing at the back of the apartment and I listen to the singsong melody of his breath. I try to jot these moments down in my head so I can use them on darker days. Somewhere between cups of tea and getting lost in the flavor of the island, I decide that it’s time to go to work on making something for breakfast.
I pull the bananas out of the refrigerator and they are dark and soft. I pull out a bowl from the top cabinet and strip the insides from the flesh. With a fork, I set to mashing the bananas to a chunky pulp. Sometimes, it feels good to tear and smash in the kitchen – to make a mess until you’re covered with sticky pulp, flour, and coarse sugar. Ray Barretto is playing in the background. This morning the music in the kitchen is traveling across the Caribbean.
Kevin has taught me how to love bachata, salsa, danza, and merengue and it’s as close as it can get to my blood. This morning, the songs are all dripping with the islands. It’s summer in here y’all & I’m wrist deep in sweet dough, dancing salsa across the kitchen, crying out with heartbreak at each bachata song, (which is why it took me longer to complete this recipe) and trying to translate the lyrics as fast as they’re spoken. I know that I’m just a child of this musical tradition, but I can’t help but fall in love with the congas & timbales – the way in which you can dance the sadness off your bones.
I stripped the cinnamon, nutmeg, and other winter spices from this recipe to make it sing a little more in the tune of summer. After all, bananas in the fall and wintertime are undoubtedly out-of-season. The white, Puerto Rican rum is in honor of all the island recipes I’ve been reading and the maple syrup of my newfound New England roots. I hope your days have been sweet & that your last weeks of summer hold what you need to get you through the introspective, cold months ahead.
White Rum Banana Bread
I’m a big proponent of not wasting food, when possible. You’ll find vegetable scraps in our freezer that are waiting to become vegetable stock and I’ve been known to build compost bins for family members. We haven’t been eating bananas at the regular pace lately and when Kevin went to toss them out, I went into food saving mode and came up with this recipe for banana bread. The rum is not too strong, but it does give the bread a more rounded flavor. Let me know how you like it!
6 ripe bananas
2 flax eggs
3/4 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbs turbinando sugar
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white rum
1 3/4 unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Grease a 9″ loaf pan and set aside.
- Peel five bananas and chop them into bite size pieces. Place them in a large bowl and mash using a potato masher or fork until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together 5 tbs water and 2 tbs milled flaxseed to make 2 flax eggs. Set aside for 5 minutes. Once the mixture has thickened, whisk together with with the we ingredients, including sunflower oil, brown sugar, turbinando sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and rum.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients, including flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt.
- Add the wet ingredients to your mashed bananas. Once thoroughly mixed, slowly add the dry ingredients and stir until fully incorporated.
- Using a spatula, fill the 9″ loaf pan 3/4 of the way full with batter. Peel and slice your last banana in half and place on the top. Make sure to only fill the pan 3/4 of the way full because you’ll need space for the bread to rise.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes. Check to see if the loaf is properly baked by inserting a toothpick. It should not have any residue once removed from the dough.
Plus, a few of the songs that I’m crushing on right now…
No Me Queda Más – Selena
El Hombre De Tu Vida – Rey Ruiz
Hoja En Blanco – Monchy & Alexandra
La Soledad – Rafael Cortijo, Ismael Rivera
Quimbara – Celia Cruz
Cuanto Duele – Carlos y Alejandra
Medicina De Amor – Raulin Rodriguez
Nueve y Quince – Aventura
La Vida Es Un Carnival – Celia Cruz
El Cayuco – Tito Puente