I suspect the mice like bananas. Or perhaps it's the cinnamon that tickles their tiny pink noses. Whatever it is, they like it. I know this because not 15 minutes after I placed this banana bread in the oven to bake, did I walk back into the kitchen to find a little gray mouse perched brazenly on the kitchen counter, tiny paws poised on each side of a stray drop of batter. My entrance disturbed him and for just a second we stared at each other in what I can only imagine was a very mutual shock. It was four in the afternoon, for Pete's sake!
"Aren't you supposed to be nocturnal?!?" I thought as I watched him leap onto the floor and disappear under the cabinet, leaving me equal parts shaken and disgusted.
It's not like this was the first mouse. I've had, on occasion, a bit of a rodent situation. Nothing too severe, mind you, but every now and then--usually when it's dark in the kitchen--I'll catch one rustling near the trash or making a beeline from under the oven across the kitchen and beneath the fridge. When it happens, I scream my horror movie scream and jump and squirm like a real life caricature of a girl in a kitchen with a mouse. If my boyfriend is home he'll walk in and stomp around and wave a broom making a very manly sort of racket to spook the little creature away while I stand on the couch or chair or coffee table hugging myself and waiting for him to assure me that the coast is clear.
But this mouse. Well, this mouse was different. This mouse was brave. He smelled something that he wanted and went after it defying all accepted laws of mouse behavior.
At night I have terrifying dreams about the situation. I picture giant, dog-sized mice cheekily opening my fridge and serving themselves thick slices of brie and spoonfuls of baba ghanoush while gossiping to each other in a breathy, high-pitched squeek. I imagine that these are Bourgeois mice with international palates that seek drops of truffle oil and squares of bitter dark chocolate. They like only the best, which is why they haunt my kitchen.
But really, this isn't a post about mice. It's about banana bread. I only brought up the mouse because, as I noted earlier, he seemed to really like it. The scent of this cake filled the kitchen minutes after closing the oven door. Spicy hints of cinnamon and nutmeg plus the caramel-y sweetness of the brown sugar and that unmistakable--perhaps even nectar-like?--aroma of the bananas seemed to swoop in and fill every nook and cranny of my apartment. So perhaps I can't blame the mouse for coming out to sample the goods. He just couldn't resist.
This cake is good. It's moist, almost muffin-like, with a subtle sweetness and a beautiful crumb. The recipe is full of unexpected secrets: olive oil, sour cream, and my favorite: one single ripe and juicy peach, mashed beyond recognition and blended in with the rest of the ingredients. You won't taste it, but it'll be there, a perfectly sweet and silent partner. You could use applesauce if you wanted, but it won't be nearly the same.
Enjoy. But don't get mad if you suddenly find yourself hosting some unexpected visitors; whether human or animal, this cake is sure to bring them all out.
Best Banana Bread. Ever.
3 or 4 really ripe bananas, mashed into a pulp
1 really ripe peach, mashed into a pulp
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 sour cream
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1/4 old fashioned rolled oats
3 tablespoons unprocessed bran
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh if you have it!)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees
1.) In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until thick and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the olive oil, spices, and vanilla.
2.) Add the sour cream, mashed bananas, and mashed peach until combined.
3.) Combine the baking soda, baking powder, salt, oatmeal, bran, and flour.
4.) Add the dry mixture into the wet, slowly sifting in 1 cup at a time until it is all combined.
5.) Pour the mixture into a buttered and floured loaf pan (or four mini pans like I did).
6.) Bake for approximately 1 hour (based on your oven) until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
7.) Cool on a rack and serve warm or room temp.