BANANA BREAD … a circa World War Two recipe

 

Growing up during World War Two almost everything was rationed, or simply not available.    If you were very young during the war years you would never have tasted marshmallows or chewed bubble gum.   Gas was rationed.  We lived in the small town of Prince Albert, in the northern part of the province of  Saskatchewan.    A National Park and dozens of beautiful lakes were a short drive away.  Our Dad cycled several miles to work  saving  his gas ration coupons  for the occasional family outing.

The annual Pet Parade was a much anticipated event. Cats and dogs were coerced into sitting in small baby carriages, propped up in decorated, polished wagons or coaxed along with a leash.  Patriotic costumes were expected.    I felt quite smart dressed in a red, white and blue crepe dress.  Fortunately it didn’t rain.

This photograph of my sister Mona and myself was taken shortly before our Uncle Bert left for war.  He was one of the many who did not return.

It was important for everyone, young and old,  to do ones bit for the war effort.  We collected string, tin foil (from cigarette packages) metal and even fat.    Once a week the women in our neighbourhood met and knitted socks or rolled bandages.   Tea and only  one kind of cookie or cake was served.    Food was rationed.   My Mother came home from one of these projects with this recipe for Banana Bread.   It was the talk of the afternoon because it didn’t contain nuts, but looked like it did.  Nuts of any kind were simply not available.    This is my Mother’s world War Two  Banana Bread.   The only change I have made is to add nuts.

MRS. BASSETT’S BANANA BREAD

1/2 cup butter ( or very good quality hard margarine)

2/3 cup scant or white or brown sugar

2 large eggs at room temperature

2 cups of flour

1/2 tsp each salt and baking soda

1 1/2 cups generous of VERY VERY ripe bananas.  They should be soft and squishy in the skins

1/2 to 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Have all ingredients at room temperature

Cream butter and sugar until soft and creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time.

Combine the dry ingredients and mix alternatively with the mashed bananas.   Start with one-third the flour, when this is mixed add half the bananas, now add another third of flour mix just until the flour is assimilated, add the rest of the bananas.  Mix briefly, then add the final one-third of the flour.  Add the chopped walnuts and mix briefly.

Pour into a loaf pan and let stand twenty minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.   Test by sticking a cake tester or a very thin knife, into the centre of the loaf.  It should come out clean.

Banana loaf, like most loaf cakes or breads freezes well.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ICING ON THE CARROT CAKE . . . a cake for celebrating birthdays!

This is not your usual carrot cake recipe.   This is a carrot cake made sublimely rich with butter replacing the oil.   The results are a fine, firm crumb that holds and slices beautifully (so necessary in a layer cake). The cake is not complicated.  If you wish you can stir it  up in one bowl without using your mixer.     Refrigerated, the cake holds well so you can  enjoy nibbling cake over a couple of days (if it lasts that long).

And then there’s the frosting.  It is outrageously wonderful.  Rich, creamy, buttery and exquisitely flavoured and enriched with cream cheese.  It is the light as air volume that takes this cake creation over the top.   There is absolutely no doubt.  The frosting is sublime.  It’s uncomplicated and foolproof.  You simply beat the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar until is fluffy and smooth.  Lavish the frosting  between the layers and on the top of the cake.  Don’t frost the side of the cake.

This is my special occasion cake.  The cake I make for family birthdays.    This summer my younger sister celebrated her 80th Birthday.  I baked the cake in my kitchen, then drove  two days to our home town in Northern Saskatchewan.  The cake kept perfectly in our travelling Koolatron (refrigerator).     This cake cut beautifully into twelve servings.   I like to gild the lily so we served the cake with a generous scoop of ice cream.

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has this scrumptious recipe CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING.  Bon Appetit.

 

 

 

 

THE PROCRASTINATORS FRUITCAKE LOAF . . . make it, bake it and enjoy it the same day.

Procrastinating fruitcake lovers  do not despair.  All is not lost if you didn’t have time for the ritual baking of Christmas cakes back in October.   This quick FRUITCAKE LOAF can be whipped up in the morning and enjoyed with afternoon coffee the same day.    It’s wonderful, spicy fragrance fills your home with an aroma that is pure Christmas.   It slices beautifully and the beguiling perfume of allspice, cloves and nutmeg is perfection itself.

The ingredients are simply guidelines.  The recipe calls for candied mixed peel and dried fruit.  Your pantry has dried figs and lemon and orange peel.  Use what you have.  Pecans, slivered almonds and chopped pistachios replace chopped walnuts.   It will all taste like Christmas.  The brandy decanter is empty then substitute sherry or perhaps an exotic liqueur.  The recipe is so forgiving.

There is so much frantic pressure surrounding the Christmas season.   We need to be calm and take a step back.  Enjoy our family.  Glory in the season.  This fruitcake loaf is more than the sum total of its parts.  Its very simplicity gives one a chance to take a breath and enjoy the simple act of preparing food for those we love.

The recipe for QUICK FRUITCAKE LOAF awaits you in MRSBUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

Merry Christmas dear friends.   XXX Virginia

 

 

 

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE . . . hums to a new tune.

This cinnamon scented layer cake.    This  dense cake of banana and pineapple.  This spice cake with sumptuous cream cheese icing.  This Humming Bird cake with retro origins has become the favorite of all cake recipes on MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.

It’s a joy to make.      It doesn’t require a stand mixer.    Just two mixing bowls, some very ripe bananas, pineapple and the usual suspects when making a cake.   I’ve made  some changes to the recipe.   The most important one is the pineapple.  I’ve replaced the crushed pineapple with chopped pineapple tidbits.  The quality of the pineapple pieces is superior to crushed pineapple.   Now when you nibble your way through a gorgeous slice of Hummingbird  cake you encounter brilliant bursts of pineapple flavour.

Tuck this recipe for HUMMINGBIRD CAKE into your apron pocket.  It’s the perfect cake for the cottage.  It’s large enough for big family gatherings.  And best of all its wonderful goodness  stays fresh for the several days.

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has the new, improved and slightly changed recipe.

 

CRANBERRY, APPLE AND WALNUT CAKE . . . the pie that became a cake.

 

This is one of those desserts masquerading as something it is not.   It’s baked in a pie plate.  It looks like a pie.   But it is a delicious,  easy peasy cake.    The inspiration comes from  Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame,  one of my most favorite cook-book authors.

This is the cake to whip up when you just can’t face another pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.    It’s an absolutely doodle to make.  It simply hums along when you serve it with morning coffee.   It is rewarding.   Combing tart cranberries and apples with a sweet cake topped with walnuts and cinnamon sugar.    Could you ask for anything more?  Of course.  Top your slice of goodness with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Waltz over to MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for the recipe.

 

DECADENT DATE SQUARES . . . aka MATRIMONIAL SQUARES

I will never forget the first time I tasted date squares.  I was still in public school.    My best friend’s Mom was an excellent cook and baker.   One day after-school she served us a treat that  had me over the moon.  A sweet square that looked a little crumbly around the edges .  One bite and I was swooning over a rich, buttery, caramel enhanced oat crumb with an intensely exotic filling of dark, sweet dates.  She called these magical morsels matrimonial squares.   Even the name was wonderful.  Matrimonial squares.  Were these a special creation for weddings?  Or did they bring about marriage?

Date squares (matrimonial squares) were my first introduction to baking squares.  None of my cookbooks had a section for “squares”.    My cookbooks were published in the thirties and early forties and were all that was available.    I had started baking around l945.  I asked for the recipe and these many years later I  am still baking Mrs. Rybka’s Matrimonial Squares.

This old fashion square is a treat any time of day.  Date Squares are perfect with morning coffee (think of all those healthy rolled oats).  A sublime dessert lavished with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  They are calling you name from MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

BRING A RICH, DARK, SALTY AND SWEET TREAT INTO YOUR KITCHEN . . . DOUBLE CHOCOLATE FLEUR DE SEL COOKIES

 

French bakers have always known that a whisper of salt brings out the very best in dark, rich chocolate.    This decadent little cookie is a riff on the  fleur de sel  double chocolate cookies  created by my most favorite bakery in Toronto – Bobbette and Belle.

It has a quiet, unassuming almost old-fashioned appearance  that ends with the first delicious, crumbly addictive bite.  This is not your mother’s chocolate cookies!  It reminds one a rich short bread cookie.  The first nibble  of double layers of chocolate and the exquisite drift of sea salt  takes you to the moon and back.

This superb cookie benefits from baking a day or so in advance of serving.  The chocolate flavour intensifies as it rests quietly in the cookie jar.    It’s unique salty sweet flavour is the perfect ending for any dinner party  especially when you add a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

FLEUR DE SEL DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIE  recipe awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.