It happens every year. Like clockwork. The kids go back to school. The landscaping, the grass, the trees … everything that was so lush and fresh a few months ago, all just looks sun-scorched and summer-tired now. We turn off the sprinkler system, because what’s the point? Weariness sets in.
And then the magic begins to happen … the nights cool off, then the days. The air becomes crisp, the sky is azure, and what seemed like dry, dying leaves just yesterday suddenly burst into a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors that amaze us every time. It’s like there is a collective sigh of relief as people begin to move back outside … football games, dog walking, hiking, trips to the park and zoo. Every woman in town scrambles to dig out her favorite jeans, cardigan, and booties and burns the pavement to the nearest Starbucks for a season-opener Pumpkin Spice Latte.
And I start baking. Like clockwork. Every year. I’m not sure what it is that triggers it, but it’s like I NEED to bake in the fall. Maybe its my Pennsylvania Dutch upbringing, I don’t know. But fall is for gathering, for the harvest, and what is that, without food?
So, now we are in September, and it doesn’t matter that the heat index is over 100 degrees here in the South, and the magic obviously hasn’t happened yet, but I can’t get my Jamaican Banana Bread recipe out of my head. Every day it comes to mind. At work. At home. Eventually it turns into a grocery list, and then grocery shopping … and then finally I’m pulling it out of the oven!
The satisfaction comes seeing the reaction of my family when they walk in the door to the heavenly aroma and a piece of homemade goodness! Those moments become memories for all of us. How many of our favorite family memories include food? I would say most of them. So, whether you’re like me, and just get an itch to start baking (or maybe you’re just curious to see how your family reacts if you do) here is a great place to start! Trust me on this one.
Jamaican Banana Bread
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. dark rum or 1/4 teaspoon imitation rum extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
4 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons butter
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons dark rum or 1/4 teaspoon imitation rum extract
2 Tbsp. chopped pecans
4 Tbsp. flaked sweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 8” x 4” loaf pan with cooking spray; set aside. Place softened butter and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add 1 cup of sugar, beating well. Add egg; beat well.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir with a whisk.
In a third bowl, combine mashed bananas and next 5 ingredients (through vanilla); stir well.
Add flour mixture and banana mixture alternately to butter mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Let cool slightly on wire rack.
Topping: Combine brown sugar, butter, lime juice, and rum in saucepan; bring to simmer. Cook 1 minute; stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans and coconut. Spoon over loaf.