A Note from the publisher
We’re living in an unprecedented moment in history, and it’s been amazing to see how people are pulling together to support one another. Here at TouchWood we’ve decided to ask our authors what has been keeping them busy during a time when we’ve all been asked to stay home to Flatten the Curve.
My name is Renée Kohlman, and I live in sunny Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. My first cookbook is All the Sweet Things, published in April of 2017. I can’t believe it has been three years since my first book baby arrived! And, right at this very moment I am working on book number two. Vegetables: A Love Story will be published sometime in the fall of 2021, so right now I am in the thick of recipe testing and writing. The funny thing is I had planned on self isolating (more or less) from January to July as I work on the cookbook, though not quite to this extreme. When the lockdowns were put in place, my schedule pretty much remained the same, except I no longer have a part-time baking job to go to. I’m fortunate in that I continue to write my columns for The Saskatoon StarPhoenix, as well work on freelance recipe development contracts. With pretty much all the time on my hands, I’ve been working hard on testing recipes for my cookbook and really enjoying the time in my kitchen, which has always been a sanctuary for me when times have been stressful. Having a massive project to focus on has been good for me, as it helps to push out any lurking anxiety about the messed up world. I put on some favourite music, and get chopping!
I do have to be very organized when it comes to grocery shopping, as I’m trying to go every two weeks. I’m not making small trips like I used to…so I have to really have a game plan when I hit the store. And, I used to really love grocery shopping, but now, like everyone else, I find it very stressful. Online ordering is not for me, as I’m quite picky about my produce (when writing a cookbook you have to be!), and don’t really want my food handled by too many people. But, once I get my groceries home, I get cooking. I really love the recipes I’ve developed, and with an August 1 deadline, I’m right on track. When it comes to writing, I find there are some days when it is difficult to focus. I found this to be especially true in March, when crap was really going down. If I’m on a bit of a struggle bus, I’ll take a break from the computer and go outside with my cats, read a book, or head to beautiful paths by the river and go for a walk. I’m being gentle with myself and I know that the words will come when they’re ready.
Everyone I love is safe and healthy, which is the main thing. But, I really miss seeing my friends! And going shopping for new props! I’ve had to use a lot of the same dishes, but what do you do? I’m sure saving money by staying at home! My days are full with so many good things, and I’m grateful for the roof over my head and the food in my fridge. I have a huge backyard I can hang out in, and a lovely partner to spend time with. Life may be a bit strange, but it’s still very good.
Brown Butter Buttermilk Banana Bread
Excerpted: All the sweet Things
MAKES 1 (9×5- INCH) LOAF
You’ll have to excuse the alliteration. I couldn’t help myself. I also can’t help myself when I tell you this is the banana bread of my dreams. Moist. Delicious. Rich, with toasty, nutty notes of caramel, thanks to the brown butter and brown sugar. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with bananas. To me, they are only edible when they have a little bit of green on them and are super firm. Once they turn soft and spotty, forget about it. In other words, I pretty much buy bananas for the sake of baking. My freezer almost always has bananas tucked away for days when I have a banana bread emergency—you know those days when the only baked good that will do is banana bread? Yeah, you get where I’m coming from. This recipe is a blank slate. I know some of you are quite particular as to what should and shouldn’t be in banana bread, so feel free to gussy it up with toasted nuts and chunks of chocolate. A swirl of Nutella would not be out of place. A thick slice with a slather of salted butter really is one of the best things in this life.
- ½ cup unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¼ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
- ½ cup toasted, chopped nuts and/or semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Line a 9 × 5 × 3-inch loaf pan with parchment paper overhanging the sides. Lightly butter the paper.
Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. (It’s okay to give it a bit of a stir.) The butter will froth and bubble then turn golden. When it starts to brown and smell nutty, remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Whisk together the brown butter and both sugars in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, beat in both eggs together until smooth, then beat in the buttermilk and vanilla. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and use a spatula to stir just until everything is almost incorporated. Gently stir in the mashed bananas and stir to combine. If you’re using nuts or chocolate, add them now.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake the bread for 55–60 minutes. The banana bread is done when it’s golden, the top springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, but do check it around the 50-minute mark just in case it finishes early. If the top is getting too dark, lay a sheet of aluminum foil on top. Remove the banana bread from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove it from the pan and let cool completely on the rack before slicing.
Wrap the banana bread in plastic or place in a resealable plastic bag. It keeps well at room temperature for up to 5 days and can be frozen for up to 1 month.