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Baking Banana Bread

August 14, 2011

The rain finally stopped this afternoon and I baked with my mom. Banana bread and donuts. Sifting the flour through my fingers and cutting in the butter, I felt at home. In America I baked banana bread almost once a week (especially when I was stressed) so few things in Liberia have felt so familiar. Peeling ginger, mashing bananas, dusting pans… I could close my eyes and see my kitchen at 1409 Hinkson. My big jars of flour and sugar heaped in the Wawa crate, the basket of ripe bananas waiting in the freezer, and the greasy tattered recipe I never followed anyway.

My mom left Princess and me outside and I snuck a taste of dough. Something was missing. I ran inside and got my cinnamon. I heaped several spoonfuls in and quickly mixed away the evidence. A dash of nutmeg and I was satisfied. I held my finger to my lips and looked at Princess, “Shhh! Let’s see if she notices!”

Ten minutes later my mom was stirring the dough when she stopped short and sniffed, “Did you put in nutmeg?” Oh, she’s good!

It went on the coal pot and I started the cake donuts. As I sifted the flour through my hands Princess smiled and took and big whiff, “Mmmmm, Auntie, Leela, your cinnamon makes it smell so good!” I winked and continued with the donuts. My mom showed me how to make them into little circles and we plopped them in the hot oil. They puffed right up then started crumbling! Princess had put in too much butter and the flour was “too tough.” It kept the bananas bread from rising and being fluffy too. It was delicious, just dense and flat.

My mom yelled at Princess for ruining the donuts and sent David to buy more flour. “Run! Like a man!” He returned without any and said no one would sell him only $50LD worth. So my mom called Samuel over and sent him to get some from our shop. Half an hour later we were mashing my perfect donut circles back together and adding more flour.

This morning I walked outside to rinse the bath bucket and my mom clucked, “Leela can tie lapa like true Liberian woman. Very fine. 99%!”

BANANA BREAD

LIBERIAN MARKET
2 cups flour (heaping standard can) $35LD/cup
1 eating spoon baking powder $20LD
1 small pile of ginger (3-4 pieces) $5LD
1 cup ico oil $250LD for a big bottle
5 very ripe plantains or 10 very ripe bananas $50LD
½ cup sugar $40LD
small salt
½ cup water

AMERICA
3 ½ cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3-4 pieces fresh ginger
1 cup olive or canola oil
5 very ripe bananas
¼ cup sugar
salt to taste
¼ cup water

Combine flour and baking powder in a large clean pan. Peel ginger and grate into mixture. Cut together with hands. Add sugar then oil. Mix until combined.

Wash and peel the bananas and beat in a mortar until mashed. Add to flour mixture and stir to combine with a cooking spoon. Add the water and more oil if it is too sticky.

Divide into buttered and floured baking tins. Bake….. until done. Makes two good sized loaves.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2011 9:09 pm

    LOVE IT! I love passing the time baking and what an accomplishment it feels like when it works out 🙂

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