My freezer needs some serious organizational help. It's full of half bags of frozen fruit, chocolate disks for melting or chopping and peas and corn for my little weirdo who likes to eat them frozen. I've got about 20 pounds of alternative whole grain flours to aid in my obsession for all things Kim Boyce and add to that mix ins and toppings like toasted millet, flax seeds and cocoa nibs and that equals one packed freezer. There's a lot of great stuff in there, but it's all such a mess, I can hardly tell what's in there at all.
A few weeks ago, with the help of my much more fashionable friends, I created a capsule wardrobe (find out more here). The basic explanation is you whittle down your wardrobe to only 37 pieces for a particular season (just 3 months), including pants, tops, outerwear and shoes and you don't buy anything in that time. It sounds really restrictive, which is why I waited so long to do one, but as it turns out, it's incredibly freeing. Admittedly, fashion is something I'm interested in, but it's not the highest priority in my life. My closet is full of basics, most of which can be worn while chasing a toddler or cooking up a big batch of bolognese. It did get me thinking though about what I really need and how much of my house is full of just space fillers, particularly my kitchen (ahem... my freezer). I think the concept of the capsule wardrobe could apply to many parts of our lives. The bulk of the hoarding in my life is centered in the kitchen. Fancy vinegar, five different types of lentils, a spice cabinet that now has to be double stacked. I like the idea of having a few quality ingredients that I use often, with the infrequent exception of something fancy and less utilitarian.
So, in an effort to start the process of narrowing down what I actually need, I decided I needed to start using what was actually in there. I had three ziplock bags full of perfectly black bananas, so I figured I'd just bake a whole bunch of stuff. I made a batch of banana cereal muffins (from Kim Boyce's book of course) and then a pair of banana breads with the addition of toasted millet, which I absolutely loved. It was nice to have a little more room in the freezer, although, the next day I made peach + yogurt popsicles which pretty much filled the vacant space.
This recipe is from The Grand Central Baking Book. I can't say enough good things about this book. It's great for someone who is a proficient baker and it's great for someone just starting out. This recipe for banana bread is pretty straight forward and it produces exactly what you want in a banana bread. It's moist, tastes like banana and it has some crunch to it with the addition of the millet and course sugar. I do realize this is the second banana bread recipe I've shared with you, but I feel like I'm always looking for the best one. I'm pretty sure this one is it.
banana bread with toasted millet // makes 2 loaves // adapted from this book
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (5 fluid ounces) canola oil
- 2 1/2 cups (1 pound 4 ounces) banana puree (about 4 small bananas)
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) buttermilk
- 2 heaping tablespoons toasted millet
- course sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar, oil and banana puree on medium-high speed until the mixture is lighter in color, about 3 minutes.
- Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup, add the vanilla and whisk together. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the eggs. Continue to mix until the eggs are fully incorporated.
- Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix briefly on low speed, then add half of the buttermilk. Mix well and repeat, using half of the remaining dry ingredients and the rest of the buttermilk. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the toasted millet, then divide the batter between the two pans. Top with a sprinkle of coarse sugar.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for 30 minutes more. Lower the temperature to 325, rotate again and bake for 30 minutes more. The loaves should be golden brown with cracked tops, and a skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.