Can I tell you something? I don’t mean to toot my own horn or anything, but, I’m good at beginning.
Name a hobby: Knitting? Taking a photo every day for a year? Running regularly? I will jump in with both feet — I have, I should say — and I’ll tell you about it, filled with energy. This would all sound pretty exciting if I didn’t have to tell you the second thing, a little something that goes hand-in-hand with this enthusiasm — brace yourself; it’s a little tragic.
The equal truth is I am a terrible finisher. Truly awful. Those hobbies above? I knitted two scarves and got bored.
I took 88 photos and stopped. And thank goodness I finally talked Alicia out of the 5K I talked her into, because, gosh, I haven’t run in weeks.
It’s bad, I know. Not the kind of character quality that great souls are made of. It gives me more admiration for people like marathon runners or, even, people who are married — there’s that commitment and follow-through that says you are serious and steadfast and faithful.
I want to be like that, and I’m taking small (ok, teeny-tiny!) steps to improve. Starting with this banana bread.
Friday night, I made this, one of my favorite banana breads (dare I say the favorite?) and ate some that night and packaged some up for the road trip the next morning, and finished it off in my lunch yesterday and today — that felt nice, the finishing, I mean. And I thought, Maybe I’ll link to this recipe on my Twitter or Facebook profiles, so people can remember it and how great it is! But I went through my archives and saw I never posted it here — right as I was popping the last could-have-been-photographed bite past my lips. So classic.
And not until I found this old, archived photo I’d forgotten, from the first time I made this banana bread, back in February, did there seem to be any hope of redemption. Because that’s when it came to me: I’ll post this I’m-still-unsure-why-it-is-so-vintage-looking photo (along with one I found in my computer files) and this recipe that I love and have been wanting to share, and I’ll tell you, Aha! Look! We’ve come first circle! Because, see? This is me finishing — one, teeny-tiny, Hallelujah! thing.
It’s not a marathon, nor a mountain, but it’s something, and it’s no longer just a loose end, and they say even a marathon begins with a single step, right? So I say it’s victory, and, to celebrate, maybe I’ll go jogging tonight.
Banana Bread with Cinnamon Streusel Topping
Adapted from Bon Appetit, September 2008
Here’s the secret behind this bread’s appeal, beyond the obvious fact that, hello, it’s banana bread: the crumbly topping. No matter how many slices I eat, the streusel is always, always my favorite part, the little bits that I save up until the end to really enjoy.
In a lot of ways, this is like a quick bread mixed with a coffee cake, and, well, you know how I love coffee cake. I think my point has been made.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (usually 2 medium)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
Start by preheating the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a metal loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. (I really love that the batter requires a touch of cinnamon – makes everything tie together.)
In a large bowl, whisk the next five ingredients until everything’s smooth and combined; then add the dry ingredients, and stir some more. Pour batter into pan.
Mix 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and brown sugar (between us, it’s OK to be a little heavy handed here; the more crumbles on top, the better); sprinkle over batter. Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, for approximately an hour.
Then, remove pan and let the bread cool, in pan, for 30 minutes. (The originally directions involve turning the pan on its side and sliding it out carefully without dislodging the toppings, but I’m going to leave that to you highly skilled types and just keep eating my breads out of the pan.)
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.