I decided today to make banana bread because we had some bananas that had gone past their peel-and-eat-by date. Then I remembered we had some blackberries in the fridge we needed to use. Kelly’s gone for the weekend to visit with family in Arizona and Nevada, so I have free reign of the kitchen. Some of my kitchen adventures turn out great, and others, not so much. Kelly sometimes rolls her eyes as if to say “What made you think that would work?”
It turns out I couldn’t find the baking flour, so I substituted whole wheat. Then the berry banana bread recipe called for strawberries or raspberries. Blackberries are a good enough substitute since they’re sorta like raspberries. Except for seeds. Blackberry seeds are horrible rocklike bits that are impossible to chew.
I got out the appropriate attachments to the mixer and ran all the berries through it to remove the seeds. Success! I now had a bowl of seedless berry goo.
The recipe also called for chopped nuts, but I ignored that part. It's a custom recipe already, and I didn't want to add walnuts. Everything went according to plan as a nice double recipe. I mixed it, ignored the deep purple color of the batter, and poured it into a multi-mini-loaf tray and two smallish loaf pans, and popped them all into the oven.
Then I noticed we had lemons, and leftover berry goo that didn’t fit into the bread recipe. Time for a smoothie! I squeezed a lemon, dumped in some of the berry goo, a third of a cup of sugar, some ice, and some leftover cream from making ice cream a couple weeks back. I threw in some mint from the front flowerbed just because I thought it would taste good. Kelly got a fancy new blender a couple months ago, and it takes reading a manual to make it do much of anything. I figured it out and blended everything up.
That was a good smoothie. It didn’t last long, and I had a whole hour to wait for the bread in the oven. I figured it would be fun to document my unsupervised kitchen antics, so I turned on the oven light, opened it up, and took a picture of the delicious-looking little loaves about half-way through their cook time.
The loaves aren’t as purple as I thought they’d be. More of a dark brown like I’d put cocoa in the mix. It was close enough to expectations that I wasn’t worried. But…
I put in the big tray of eight and two single loaf pans. Way up there at the back of the upper rack sat a third loaf pan. Not one of mine. Look at the top edge of the picture to the far right and you can barely see the bottom of an extra loaf pan.
It turns out that we made zucchini bread about two weeks ago. One of those pans never made it out of the oven since it got put way back where you can’t see it without bending down really low. A week ago, one of the kids baked stuffed peppers in the oven. We couldn’t figure out where the burned smell came from since the food came out great, and it hadn’t overflowed or spilled. Pretty weird, huh?
Then I discovered the culprit as I took my picture. I pulled the wayward loaf pan out before it could blacken any more or set of a smoke alarm. I snapped a picture and texted it to Kelly, who at the time was half-way between Mesa, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. As I write this, she probably hasn’t seen the escapee loaf yet. It stuck as I tried to remove it. Nobody's eating that lump of charcoal.
After an hour of baking, I checked on my creation, rubbing my hands together like an anxious Dr. Frankenstein. The metal probe I poked into the loaves came out clean. (I’m an engineer, not a baker. Probe sounds more accurate than metal toothpick thing-a-ma-jig.) It turns out the little loaves cooked faster and got a bit overcooked, even at ten minutes under the recommended time. Kelly probably could have warned me about that if she were here. Either that, or the small loaves overcooked in sympathy for their two-week-old incinerated brother-loaf.
You’re supposed to let them sit for ten minutes, and then move them from the pans to a wire cooling rack. I gave it at least five minutes as I stared at them, willing them to cool faster. Then I gave them at least one more minute as I chose a bread knife.
There’s just a hint of purple at the center that's hard to see in the pictures, and the crust is a deep brown caused by the whole wheat flour and berries. The larger loaves didn’t overcook at all, indifferent toward the plight of the extra-crispy zucchini stowaway loaf.
I’ll call the whole-wheat-blackberry-banana bread experiment a success! Between that and the smoothie, I’m two-for-two today.