Boston. For most people (at least those familiar with U.S. history) the name conjures up thoughts of a famous harbor tea party in years gone past, a brave and daring fellow named Paul Revere or a battle during the Revolutionary War on a hill called Bunker.
If you're a foodie type of person, perhaps you think about the classic American picnic/potluck fare that goes so well with hamburgers and/or hot dogs; those yummy slow-baked beans all souped up with molasses, brown sugar, ketchup and bacon. Did you know that Boston is actually nicknamed "Bean Town"?
Yes, Boston is famous for all of these things and more, but for me, there's something else, something wonderful, that comes to mind; a bakery. A bakery? Yes, a bakery with racks piled high with European style baguettes, flaky croissants, pecan studded sticky buns and myriads of other delectable sweet treats (including, of course, Boston Cream Pie). A bakery with cozy tables where fabulous sandwiches, unique soups and fresh, seasonal salads are served all day long. A bakery quite famous and beloved by many, the Flour Bakery & Café. Ever heard of it?
Flour Bakery was started by Joanne Chang-Myers, a Harvard graduate who left the business world to pursue a culinary career. After stints in several famous New York restaurants, Joanne opened the first Flour Bakery & Cafe in 2000. It was so popular that there are now four of her delightful establishments scattered throughout the city. I've never had the pleasure of visiting Boston or any of the Flour Bakery/Cafés, but I've heard tales of deliciousness and rave reviews that have spread far and wide.
I recently came across Joanne's wonderful sounding banana bread recipe and tucked it away in the culinary files of my brain. When I noticed a large bunch of suddenly over-ripe bananas in my fruit bowl last weekend, it seemed to be destiny that the two should be merged. If I couldn't go to Boston and visit Flour Café, perhaps making something of theirs at this Café would be the next best thing.
I adapted the recipe just a bit adding toasted pecans instead of walnuts. Just for fun, I also made a small batch of caramel icing which was drizzled over the loaves while still warm. The bread on it's own is FABULOUS and with the caramel drizzle, well, let's just say it's perfect not only for breakfast or brunch, but as a delicious dessert, served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream too.
So now you know. Next time you meet someone from Boston, ask them about Flour Bakery & Café. I have a feeling you might see a smile spread across their face and hear a tale of epicurean delight shared. In the meantime, if you find yourself with a bunch of bananas flecked with those golden brown sugar spots ................. you know just what to do, right?
- For the banana bread:
- 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes
- 2⅓ cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups coarsely mashed very ripe bananas 6 large
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1⅓ cups pecans chopped and toasted
- For the drizzle:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons milk start with 2
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two (9 by 5 by 3-inch) loafpans with baking spray, (not cooking spray) or butter the pans, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.
Sift together 3¼ cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl.
Beat together eggs and sugar in bowl of electric mixer at medium-high speed until very thick and pale and mixture forms a ribbon when beater is lifted, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add oil in a slow stream, mixing well, then mix in bananas, Greek yogurt, and vanilla. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in flour mixture and toasted pecans gently, but thoroughly.
Divide batter between loaf pans, spreading evenly, and bake in center of oven until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 1 to 1¼ hours. Be careful not to under bake or loaves will be doughy in the center.
Cool loaves in pans on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack. Turn loaves right side up and allow to cool for another 10 minutes then drizzle in a back and forth motion with caramel icing. allow to cool completely before slicing.
For the drizzle, combine butter, brown sugar and milk in a medium-size microwave safe bowl. Cook on high for one minute, stirring after 30 seconds. Remove from microwave, add powdered sugar and stir until smooth.
Add vanilla and stir until combined. If icing is too thick to drizzle add a bit of milk. If too thin add a little more powdered sugar.
~ If drizzle is omitted, banana bread keeps, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature 2 days or frozen for, 1 month. If you've added frosting, cover loosely when storing.
~ This recipe makes 2 large loaves. Cut recipe in half if you want just one loaf or several smaller loaves.