Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rum and Raisins Love Bananas

Sometimes there are ingredients hanging around the kitchen that need to be used up and my feeling is along the lines of mending a hem before it unravels more or picking the flowering tops off the basil to keep them growing...a task that is undoubtedly worthy but not particularly inspiring. Turning left over salad into soup falls into this area in my opinion.

Other times the ingredients are the kind you hope for...left over bread that will eventually be turned into stuffing or bread pudding, the end of a chunk of Parmesan that gives a great flavor to some soup, or one of my favorites...ripe bananas. A really ripe banana has golden yellow skin with dark brown spots. If all the skin is brown you may have gone too far, but it will still make some great banana bread.

That's what I did last week...made banana bread. The three medium bananas I used looked a bit like giraffes necks...the blotches of brown were pretty big but the skin was still golden, too. I used a recipe from one of my favorite baking books, Marion Cunningham's The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. This one is almost scone-like in texture and is less sweet than some but it has the benefit of raisins soaked in rum...the perfect complement to bananas.

About the only thing to know about this recipe is that the pan sizes are on the small size so plan accordingly. You can find the dimensions right under the recipe title. It also helps to remember that this kind of quick bread does best with minimal mixing of the batter once the dry ingredients are added.

Do give this bread a try when you find yourself with an overabundance of bananas...and some rum and raisins in the pantry.

Rum-Raisin Banana Bread
Makes two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaves

1 cup raisins
6 tablespoons rum
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 cup ripe banana (about 2 large or 3 medium bananas)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Note: I used 1/2 cup regular raisins and 1/2 cup golden raisins.

Stir the raisins and rum together and let stand for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours, stirring occasionally. You can soak the raisins in the rum the night before and they will be plump and moist.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two loaf pans.

Stir and toss together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir together the butter, sugar, eggs, milk, mashed banana, walnuts, and the raisins and their rum. Add the mixed dry ingredients and stir just until the batter is thoroughly blended. Over mixing causes the bread to become dry and tough.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. I find it hard to wait until the loaves are completely cool. Slightly warm banana bread is hard to beat.


  1. I never thought of putting rum into banana bread before consuming it - the rum not the banana bread!!

    That bread sounds delicious.

    (Really? You've made left-over salad into soup?)

  2. Elizabeth, most of the rum cooks off but there is a distinctive flavor that remains in the raisins. You could sub bourbon, too. Making soup out of salad is easy. Add broth to the veggie salad (doesn't work too well if you have non-veggie additions to the salad) in a pot, simmer, add cooked pasta or rice or potatoes if you like, adjust seasonings and its done. If you prefer, you can puree the soup once the veggies have cooked. I mostly do this with green salads that include tomatoes, cucumber, squash, carrots, green onions, etc. If the salad has been dressed with a creamy dressing, I'd rinse the salad off first before adding to the pot with the broth or stock. I usually don't dress the whole bowl of salad (our family has different favorite dressings, so they get added at the table to the individual salad plate or bowl)so it's really greens and veggies which makes great soup.