It’s been a weird week. And weird weeks find me contemplative in the kitchen, pondering life, purpose and path.
We handed over the keys to my parents’ house to the new owner on Tuesday, bringing to a somber close one of life’s unavoidable chapters. Once home, I wandered into the kitchen, as I do when I’m fidgety, whether in joy or sadness or a ponderous foggy funk.
I had purchased bananas last week with the intent of making weekend scones before The Cold from Hell knocked me flat, and they were still on the counter, yellow and perky as could be. Not a speck of brown, not a single soft spot.
How is it possible that 5-day-old bananas were still not over-ripe? [Shrug] I turned on the oven. I was feeling better already. The kitchen does that. So does bread-making.
When you’re an obsessed cook who reads cookbooks in her spare time, you pick up things, tricks, secrets, shortcuts. Some are wicked useful; some are silly. This tip rocks.
Roasting is the impatient person’s cure for bright yellow bananas that are not-quite-recipe-ready. With the same effect as roasting garlic or our favorite vegetables, a short stint in a hot oven brings out the banana’s natural sugary sweetness, and breaks down the fruit into mushy goodness. (Yes, they turn black and a little liquidy, and yes, your house will smell like bananas. I consider both to be good things when the reward is scones.)
(Don’t expect the same results with green bananas — they’re just too bitter.)
A sensible person slices their scone dough into 8 pieces. A foggy-funked, mucus-stuffed person slices it into 6ths and doesn’t apologize.
Banana bread in scone form. Drizzled with brown sugar glaze. Yes, please. The foil to the grumpies or the weepies.
The warm Spring brought about another surprise: the gorgeous lilac tree in my parents’ front yard bloomed early this year. Now, in fact, as we closed on the house (it normally blooms on Mother’s Day). How grateful I was, to see this show-stopper in full bloom one last time.
I cut off a small branch to take home to savor the sweet, sweet smell of lilac while revisiting memories of happy times with my parents.
Roasted Banana Bread Scones
adapted from thekitchn.com
for the scones
3 ripe (yellow) bananas
2 – 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup yogurt (regular or Greek)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
for the glaze
1 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons milk, whole or 2%
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the unpeeled bananas on a lined, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. The banana skins will be very dark brown/black. Remove from oven and cool.
While the bananas cool, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers, a fork, or a pastry cutter until the butter pieces are no larger than a pea.
Peel and mash the bananas. You should have about one cup — mix in milk, if necessary, to bring the measure up to one cup. Stir in the yogurt.
Add the banana mixture to the flour and stir until just incorporated. Fold in the nuts, if using. This makes a lovely, shaggy wet dough.
Line a dinner plate with wax paper and turn out the dough on top. Pat into a 1″ thick disk. Top with another piece of wax paper and freeze for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F.
Remove top sheet of wax paper and invert the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Remove the other sheet of wax paper and slice the dough into 6 or 8 wedges, pulling the pieces apart slightly. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Prepare the glaze: heat the butter and the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds on high. Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla until the sugar is melted. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar, starting with 1/4 cup. Add more for a thicker glaze.
When the scones have cooled, drizzle the glaze on top and serve.