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Fast and loose

Is definitely not what I’d title my autobiography/biopic–“sloth-like and quivery”, maybe, or “confused–yes–gentle, too” more like. This post, though? It’s a quick one (with a present at the end to help you recover from the holiday season hullaballoo) because we all have enough to manage at this time of the year, for better or worse (my uncle and younger cousins descended on our home last night so I’m steeling myself for the endless thumpthumpthump of six year old feet tearing through our hallway at dawn for the next few days).

On last month’s post I had a friend comment:

Your cookbook nightstand sounds really nice, too. Will you show it to us one day? I’m sure it’s terribly aesthetically pleasing. And I think I see some little marks in that book. Is there a system to those colors or?

Two things: yessssssss I will. Or have. Seeing as the photo is right ↑ there. I don’t know how “aesthetically pleasing” it can get when that piece of furniture isn’t in a well-lit corner of my room and I had to contort myself in the most silly way to get that shot (it’s alright though, I’ve decorated Rose Floats before–I know my way around silly, people-shouldn’t-be-able-to-fit-there spaces).

As for whether there’s reason behind all that coloured flag nonsense? Well, it depends. Most books are laid out in sections, of course, be it by ingredient, cooking type, course, etc. and sometimes I follow that lead and hope I remember it, but mostly they’re just there to remind me of all the things I’ve yet to attempt in my own kitchen. I love cookbooks. I love the weight of them in my arm, the stories they tell; I’m wary of falling into that very alluring black hole of owning more than I know what to do with, so I try to choose my titles carefully. But I’ll always reach for Lebovitz no matter the subject matter–his words trip across the page as deftly as his recipes, revealing and witty, with a double entendre or three just in case you’re getting too relaxed–and Rachel Khoo is an inspiration in every way, sartorial, culinary, or otherwise (to live life like her illustrations would be a wonderful thing).

I have more titles on my proper bookshelf sandwiched between tins of tea: Michael Ruhlman’s Twenty, a book of international doughnut recipes I snagged from an old internship at a publishing house… we’ll explore those in the future, but maybe you have a dog curled up in your lap, maybe you have dinners to prep and relations to entertain. Certainly we all have miles to go before we sleep.

And when things quiet down and that sleep finally comes, I hope it is soft for you.

To next year!

Banana buttermilk bread
from The Violet Bakery Cookbook

There might be a thing as too many bananas. The loaf I upended from pan to hand to wire rack was more “pudding that had seen some things in its life and developed a thick skin” than all the other banana breads I’d made in the past. The banana half on top was partly sunken into the surrounding caramelized sugar crust. It was the squishiest–like finding money in an overstuffed couch and by money I mean pockets of warm, vanilla-scented banana, which is pretty much the same thing. I was so worried that it would cave in on itself, but it held its shape and was even better the day after, even if I only had my one slice to go off of because my family demolished it overnight.

That said, I might see what one or two less bananas will do next time around. And there’ll be many next times–this is the kind of banana bread recipe that you can show off proudly, instead of shuffling and mumbling that it’s “just banana bread.” Shout this one off your rooftop, mouth full and all.

I’ve had Netflix’s Jessica Jones on the brain ever since I finished the first season the other week. I didn’t have rum in the house, but I added a teaspoon of nutmeg and it turned out marvelously*.

Butter, for greasing the pan
6 very ripe bananas
2/3 cup (150g) vegetable oil
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (200g) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dark rum
2 eggs
1/3 cup (75g) cultured buttermilk or plain yogurt (I had some leftover plain Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 cups (210g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 355°F/180°C (or 320°F/160°C convection). Butter a 10 by 4-inch (25 by 10-cm) loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Reserve half a banana, cut lengthwise, for the top of the cake and mash the remaining bananas well.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, vanilla, rum, eggs, and buttermilk or yogurt. Add the mashed banana and set aside.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Fold this into the banana mixture until just combined, then pour into your prepared pan. Smooth the top with an icing spatula or rubber spatula and place the reserved banana half on top. Sprinkle with the sugar.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the top of the cake has set and starts to caramelize (you can use a kitchen blowtorch to help this along; I wasn’t feeling like having that sort of drama in my life this weekend, so I just let the oven give it the slightest sugary crust and left it at that). Leave to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 1 (10 by 4-inch/25 by 10-cm) loaf cake; my loaf pans are 9 by 5-inches, but so long as you’re not looking to make little bitty loaves, there’s nothing you need to fuss over.

Happy holidays to you and yours–I hope it’s a lovely one!


* That’ll make sense if you watch the show. And do watch the show if you can (or give it a shot, at least). It’s not an easy one to watch, but I’m glad that it exists.

Filed under: Musings, Savor, Writing

About the Author

Posted by

Give me a curtain call, a flaky pastry, and put me on the next flight to Somewhere, Anywhere and I couldn't be happier. Heyo! I'm Julia, green tea-drinking extraordinaire and avid muser based in the United States, but always following my nose and my taste buds to the next destination.


  1. Pingback: Bananas! | Skilly 'n' Duff

  2. Me, it was me- I’m famous on the Internet!!!

    Anyway, it is quite aesthetically pleasing. The brightness of color, the thickness, even just being a small number. Much, much simpler to handle, I think. I imagine, I mean. (An international doughnut recipe book sounds fascinating though.)

    I am not a fan of bananas (I would hand them over to you in a heartbeat, should I find myself in possession of them), but gosh darn if your words don’t make me wish I loved them. Honestly, seeing “partly sunken into the surrounding caramelized sugar crust” makes it easy to understand why it would be demolished so quickly.

    What is it about children and being up with the sun is? Why do we ever grow out of that?

    Liked by 1 person

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