I don't do a lot of baking, but when I do, I usually pull The Olives Dessert Table from the book shelf and look for inspiration. I've used this book so much, that the pages have begun to fall out. Scribbled notes throughout the book keep track of my doubling or even quadrupling of some recipes. This is a book I can count on and one where the recipes actually work.
In 1999, I had the pleasure of apprenticing at Olives Restaurant in Charlestown, Mass. Owned by Chef Todd English, it was one of the top restaurants in Boston, earning Todd with a few James Beard awards through the years. Chef English presented bold Mediterranean cuisine to a clientele that was willing to wait an hour outside before doors opened just to get a taste of of this former restaurant. While his food was some of the best, it was the desserts prepared by pastry chef Paige Retus that really blew my mind.
In the rare case that I was able to sneak a few nibbles from the dessert station, I quickly feel in love with the sometimes zany combinations created by Chef Page. Personally, I love all things banana and her banana rich dessert featured in the book stands out as one of my personal favorites. I have since dissected the recipe and have been using this particular banana bread recipe continuously since early 2000's. The intense banana flavor was something that I had not experienced before in this classic baked good. One big difference in this recipe compared to others I've used is that she calls for really ripe bananas or as she puts it, "The nastier the better". Also, the butter is melted and added to the whipped butter which I find pulls out more banana flavor, making it simply, Ahhmazing!
The recipe below is an adaptation from the original recipe. I've probably made this recipe at least 50 times or more and have played around with different seasonings as well as sweeteners and flours. In the past, I've reduced the gluten and used a quarter to half buckwheat flour which I get right here in Maine. If you don't do butter, substitute coconut oil, melted of course.
Try out the recipe then leave a comment down below and let me know how it turns out!
- 4 bananas, as ripe as possible
- 1 cup Rapadura, maple sugar, or coconut palm sugar
- 1/3 pound (1 1/3 sticks) unsalted grass-fed butter, melted, cooled slightly (plus extra for greasing)
- 2 large pastured eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
- 1 1/4 cup freshly milled wheat, rye, or spelt flour
- 1/4 cup mesquite powder (if unavailable, replace with your flour of choice)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch loaf pan. (I usually add a piece of parchment to the bottom of the pan)
- Place the bananas and sugar in a bowl of a mixer. Use the paddle attachment to whip the bananas very well, about 2-3 minutes.
- Scrape the sides then add the butter. Mix until incorporated then add the eggs one by one along with the vanilla. Scrape the sides again before moving on.
- Combine the flour, mesquite, salt, baking soda, and cardamon. Mix well then add it to the mixer.
- Mix just until combined then pour the batter into the greased pan. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and firm in the middle. You can test it with a tooth pick.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing the bread out of the pan. Store at room temperature for 3-4 days or freeze for a few months.