I'm often asked about the evolution of a recipe -- how recipes begin, how they develop, how they end up in the newspaper or on the blog to be shared. This is a hard question to answer because there is really no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes a recipe begins as a gust of wind blows outside and a yellow leaf flitters down, and suddenly I have an urgency to make a pot of soul-warming soup. Sometimes I miss a person who lives far, far away and it makes me crave a dish that we enjoyed together, a food that brings fond memories back to life. Still other times, like today, it's as simple as a bowl of fragrant bananas, distracting me from my other projects, summoning me to make something with them. Often I just inexplicably need to cook something, anything, and all will feel right in the world again.
So, there was one day when I made a loaf of bread and she was a beauty. She is a variation of my beloved chocolate chip banana bread, but instead of chocolate chips, I used blueberries. Then I opted to top her with a buttery, golden cinnamon layer, because cinnamon and blueberries are a delightful pairing. While sometimes I conceptualize an entire recipe in a moment, this one developed gradually -- a little here, a little there, until she was just right.
Blueberry banana bread with cinnamon crunch topping
Yields 1 loaf
3 large ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter, melted
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
For the topping:
¼ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a standard loaf pan.
2. Peel bananas, break them up and toss them into a bowl. Mash with a potato masher (I leave some banana pieces so you get occasional, nice bites of banana in the bread; don't mash until the bananas are completely liquefied).
3. To the bananas, add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Fold the blueberries into the dry ingredients. Add the flour/blueberry mixture to the liquids and stir until combined. Do not overmix.
4. To make the topping: In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles crumbs.
5. Spread batter evenly into prepared loaf pan, sprinkle the top of the loaf with the cinnamon mixture, and stud the top of the loaf with a handful of blueberries. Bake for 60-70 minutes or cooked through in the center.
Maya Evoy lives in Nikiski and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Have a food question or recipe request? Email email@example.com and your inquiry may appear in a future column.