Sorry for the recent lack of posts. To make up for it, TBE is today featuring a recipe for banana bread, which is delicious and eminently doable even in the most ill-stocked of Cairo kitchens, so long as it contains a mixer (about which we’ve recently learned that some people refer to it as a “hand blender,” which sounds rather sinister). Also bananas are currently in season and the bananas of Cairo are far better than any one is likely to find in the US, so one should take advantage.
But first, some topical humor dreamt up by TBE’s team of highly trained comedians:
What did the banana do when he wanted to talk to someone on the other side of the café?
Answer, and the recipe, after the jump.
He moseyed on over.
3 bananas- mashed (We used four bananas, because Egyptian bananas are typically smaller than the ones found in the US, where this recipe originated. We might use five next time.)
¼ cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter at room temperature (Lurpak is the de facto official butter of TBE HQ. One-half cup is roughly equivalent to 115 grams, which is easy to measure using the handy gram measurements printed on the side of the package. There are many things to love about Egypt, but, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, “It takes a lot to laugh, it takes Egyptian butter to make TBE cry.”)
1 tsp. baking soda (Baking soda goes by its scientific name of bicarbon (بيكاربون) in Egypt, and is available at some pharmacies and most ‘attars. The place we buy it is at the ‘attar in Bab al-Louq market, directions to which can be found here. It is remarkably cheap, with LE1 worth probably enough to last you about six months to a year of baking. It is also useful in removing unwanted refrigerator smells. In fact TBE is considering buying up Egyptian bicarbon and exporting TBE brand Baking Soda to the West at marked up prices, to increase our revenue streams.)
1/2 cup nuts (Walnuts are the traditional choice. For some reason a recent survey of downtown nut shops found them curiously bereft of walnuts. But never fear, they are available in abundance at the ‘attar mentioned above.)
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks (optional) (We’ve made it both with and without the chocolate. If you do use it, you should consider adding an extra banana, because the chocolate can overwhelm the other flavors.)
Blend together the softened butter and sugar.
Add eggs and bananas and mix thoroughly. (This is a very important step that will likely determine the consistency of your bread. If you blend it for a while, to an airy consistency, your bread will likewise have an airy consistency. If you blend it just until the ingredients adhere one to the other, your bread will be much denser.)
Add flour, milk, baking soda and nuts and mix thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into a well-greased pan (either butter or shortening) and bake at 350 for one hour. (Two things: 1) Although TBE has traditionally eaten banana bread baked in a loaf pan, lack of access to one necessitated our baking it in a springform pan. Loaf pans are almost certainly available at El-Ebiary, as are springform pans. 2) Many Cairo ovens are unequipped with temperature controls, making baking and other oven-based cooking difficult. Thus we cannot stress enough the utility of buying an oven-suitable temperature gauge before coming to Egypt or finding one here. (Link is provided for demonstration purposes only.) Ours was bequeathed to us by Poseidon and Mrs P before they plunged back into the watery depths, and it has allowed us to expand our repertoire exponentially.)