Nothing makes teachers act like kids more than a snow day. It’s a dirty little secret that teachers hope for snow days with even more fervency than students. A couple nights ago, Facebook was abuzz with weather-related status updates. SNOW DAY! WOOHOO!…Finally got the call! No school tomorrow!…Very happy camper right now… And then there was my status: Saaaaahhhhnnoooooooowwwwww daaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy! Yesssss! I was the teensiest bit excited. Now, what does one do in winter conditions with time off and a bowl full of spotty bananas? Do I even need to say it?
Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked Up Banana Bread is my go-to recipe. For years, I actually followed the recipe as written–besides replacing the flour with whole wheat pastry flour, and the bourbon with other various liquors. I had never thought to drastically change it, because I knew I had found everything I was looking for in banana bread. It was moist. Sweet, but not too sweet. Spiced and fragrant, with an underlying boozy hum. I was completely satisfied with the recipe, and not tempted to change a thing.
But then… My eyes began to wander. Visions of coffeecake crumble danced in my head, and I just couldn’t shake the thought. Banana bread and coffeecake in one?!? Do you think? Nawwwww! Deb’s recipe is perfection. You can’t! But you must!
I started tinkering around, trying to create a nutty crumble to complement, but not over-shadow the banana bread perfection. I finally arrived at the perfect intersection between coffeecake and banana bread: a fragrant crumble with toasty, wal-nutty clumps on top, and my favorite (almost) original “Jacked Up” banana bread underneath.
You won’t even need to summon the snow gods to make this banana bread. Just a little bit of time, and few spotty bananas!
Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Walnut Crumble
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes one loaf
For the Banana Bread:
4 ripe bananas, smashed with a fork
1/3 cup melted salted butter (or earth balance vegan butter)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon brandy or bourbon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
For the Walnut Crumble:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup walnuts
3 1/2 tablespoons cold butter (or Earth Balance vegan butter)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
- Spread the walnuts on a cutting board and smash them using the bottom of a measuring cup or jar. Combine all walnut crumble ingredients in a medium bowl. Using clean hands, blend the ingredients together until the butter is completely incorporated. Squeeze handfuls of the crumble in your hands, then break apart the bigger clumps to form pieces resembling a coffeecake topping.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a loaf pan with butter.
- Put the bananas in a large bowl, and use a fork to mash them. Mix in the melted butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, brandy, and the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the top and mix it in. Add the flour, and mix until just incorporated.
- Pour into the buttered loaf pan. Spread the crumble topping evenly over top.
- Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before slicing and serving.