julia’s banana bread

I just woke up from one of the best dreams I’ve ever had.  At the moment, I am sitting on Amtrak — rolling through miles of factory towns and burnt out buildings on my way to New York City.  As much as I love the city that never sleeps, I seriously needed some sleep. Thank the Lord it’s spring break and I can finally log out of my school e-mail account, hang up my backpack, and get some serious shut eye.  About an hour ago, the bumpiness of the train lulled me to sleep, and I was transported far, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city…

It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people tell me about their dreams.  Not their dreams as in aspirations, but their nonsensical, rambling, nighttime dreams about purple cows and police chases.  Please forgive me, but I need to share this awesome dream with you guys.  It’s nothing crazy or complicated  — just a small tree house, a winding road, and some really good banana bread.

I had my noise cancelling headphones on, listening to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s soothing voice and soon, I drifted off into the sunny beaches of Hawaii…

My mind wandered to an article about banana bread that I had read about in Bon Appetit a while back.  I dreamed that I was in an old, rickety Jeep, driving on a one-lane road along the shoreline.  I drove for about 20 miles, and although I’m usually pretty impatient, the drive didn’t bother me one bit. With a view like that, I really couldn’t complain.  Finally, I drove up to a treacherous twist in the path, and I saw a quirky, lime-green tree house perched among the shady palm trees.  The weather was warm and beautiful, and the kind, old woman behind the counter’s smile was even warmer and more beautiful.  I walked up to the counter and she handed me a warm slice of banana bread.  The end.

When I made Julia’s famous banana bread for myself, it was like something out of a dream.  I don’t know how to describe it — just trust the thousands of people who swear that it’s the best on the planet.  The recipe is perplexingly simple —  bananas, oil, and flour.  But there’s something very unique about it — a special island touch if you will.  It has significantly more
speckles and freckles than any other banana bread I’ve ever made — just like the freckles we all get at the beach.

One day, my dream will come true and I will actually make the trek up to Julia’s banana bread stand.  But for now, I’ll just cut myself another slice (or three) when I get home.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable oil spray



1 3/4
cup
all-purpose flour



1 1/2
teaspoons
baking soda



3/4
teaspoon
kosher salt



3

large eggs



1 1/2
cups
sugar



1
cup
mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)



3/4
cup
vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a
9x5x3-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and
salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large
bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just
until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.


Bake until a tester inserted
into the center of bread comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a
wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around
inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool
completely.


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hawaiian butter mochi

Butter mochi is an easy Hawaiian local-style treat made with sweet coconut, melted butter, and a gooey rice flour base. Hawaii is famous for its many fusion cuisine treats — such as malasadas, musubis, manapuas, and this sweet butter mochi. I have cousins in Hawaii, and have grown up savoring all of these delicious treats inspired by the diverse local culture whenever I visit. In fact, my oldest cousin also has a baking blog where she shares her recipes and reviews various restaurants in Oahu.

made in mini-muffin cups

This would be a great dessert for any tropical themed party, it’s also great for potlucks, and can easily feed a crowd. Everyone I know has fallen in love with its plump and chewy texture and irrisitable notes of butter, eggs, and vanilla. To find mochiko flour, look in your local Japanese/Asian store, or call a specialty store to see if they have it.
With love,
Erica

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs
3 cups sugar
4 cups mochi flour (you will need two boxes of mochiko)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 can coconut milk (12 oz.) – add water to make 2 cups
1 can (13 oz.) evaporated milk – add water to make 2 cups
2 teaspoons vanilla
optional:
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare your pan with butter and flour. I made an 8×8 square pan of mochi and some mini cupcakes. The batter will fill 2 square baking pans, or one baking pan and one mini cupcake pan. Sprinkle the pans with a little bit of mochiko.
In your stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar and eggs with an electric mixer. Add the mochiko and baking powder, along with the coconut milk and evaporated milk. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and the coconut extract. Next, add the shredded sweetened coconut.
Pour half the batter into the pan and place it in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take the mochi out of the oven and sprinkle some shredded coconut on top. Bake for another 30 minutes. Cool, and cut into squares.
For the mini cupcakes: Bake at 325 degrees F for about 15 minutes, then sprinkle some coconut on top, and bake for 15 minutes more.