banana bread

glorious scent

The one true rule in our kitchen between me and KS is that we will do whatever we can to manage our perishables in such a way that we don’t have to throw them out if they start to spoil. Leftover herbs become pesto, tomatoes with a couple of small spots get either a slow roast in the oven or processed into homemade tomato sauce, stale bread becomes croûtons. Sometimes this means deviating from trying something new as a recipe in order to salvage an ingredient or two. In every kitchen, there are most likely a few stories like this from time to time.

one hour away from bliss

Ever since we got back from South Carolina, the cooking hasn’t stopped. I’m already behind in writing all the food we’ve prepared – and I’m warning you, one picture in particular (pork chops, why won’t you photograph well?) doesn’t make you run-run-run to the kitchen and start cooking. But I’ve been wresting with meat photography – and no matter what I do, it just looks gross to me. No matter what angle, day light or otherwise, meat comes out looking gross and well, dead. Could it be my former vegetarian reacting? But never mind about that for now.

early sunday morning snack

We brought home with us a few bananas that served us as our snack food on the road. And you know how bananas are. Lush and yellow in the grocery store, luring you with their sweetness and potassium. And then you bring them with you into the car and the sit in this scorching heat for a few hours and bam! – a few brown, soft spots appear and you’re left with mushy, brown bananas. Personally, I prefer to eat my bananas while they’re perfectly yellow, but when it comes to baking – well, bring on the soft, the over-ripe, the bruised!


And so yesterday, while cleaning up in the kitchen, I glanced over to see the sad-looking bananas hang out on the counter, probably convinced that their fate was to wind up in the garbage. Not so, I thought and dug up my trusty Martha Stewart cookbook. In ten minutes, the batter was made, poured and what was to become banana bread was happily sitting in the oven. Instead of nuts (because I’m weird and don’t like nuts in my banana bread, go figure), I added cranberries. Every year, around Thanksgiving time, I buy two extra bags of cranberries and freeze them. And then through the year, dip into my stash for things like banana bread or whatever else. It’s served me well through the years and in my opinion, it beats those Craisins every time. The cranberries are magical in banana bread, truly making the flavor pop and develop a whole new dimension. And magical is more than I could have asked for, considering that the initial goal was manage a spoiling food and what I got in return was a sweet, dreamy treat!

Banana Bread

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; mix to combine. Stir in cranberries, and pour into prepared pan.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

Adapted from “The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day”
Makes 1 large loaf.


  • deb

    How wonderful! When I saw the picture on your Flickr this morning, I thought, where did she get those cranberries? Like you, I love tart foods so fresh cranberries are vastly superior to me than the dried ones (with god-knows-what in sulfites/sugar in them) but they’re so hard to get year-round! You’re brilliant. I will have to freeze them this fall.
    P.S. I have exactly 0 experience with currants, but they’ve been looking so stunning lately–yellow and red and orange–I wonder if they would substitute well.

  • radish

    Jaden – it’s exactly what i did this morning – I had a slice with some butter and tea! It was such a great way to start off my Sunday!
    Deb – I must give credit to my mother on this – she came up with the idea – and now buys a dozen bags that she uses year-round on instant cranberry relish and various baked goodies. She’s brilliant sometimes, my mother! As far as currants go, I love how they look – and SO pretty, but my experience has been that they have been on the sweet side, rather than tart. If you want, I am happy to share a bag of my cranberries with you :-) I know that October is too far away!

  • Lisa (Homesick Texan)

    I agree with you about photographing meat–that is cooked meat. Raw meat, even though it can be kinda gross, is much more photogenic. And great idea about the cranberries–I’ll have to do that this fall when the fresh ones arrive.

  • Jim

    Hey now, you ain’t weird–I can’t stand nuts in my banana bread either.
    The more I learn about things like banana bread and zucchini bread, though, the more I wish I hadn’t. I liked it better when I thought they were healthy–y’know, ’cause anything made with bananas and zucchini must be healthy!

  • Luisa

    Photographing meat is definitely very difficult. I wonder why I, unlike Lisa, also find even raw meat tough to do.
    Love that cranberries-in-the-freezer trick. So simple and yet it’s never occurred to me!

  • clumsy

    Thank you for the recipe—I absolutely hate throwing out bananas. They are our road-trip snack too, and we usually end up throwing out one or two.

  • radish

    Luisa – the wondrous thing is that they stay good for use for the rest of the year!
    Jim – i know it’s distressing about the ‘good for you’ bit, but it’s still better than buying a pack of oreos – all the ingredients are whole and you’re avoiding processed food! :) see how I rationalize?
    Lisa – for some reason, i just am repulsed by meat pictures, raw meat is a bit better, but not by much. I wonder how one can make it ok looking?
    clumsy – i try to find ways to salvage food – it’s like a little game i play with myself. makes it fun that way.

  • Erin

    Hello- Your photography is beautiful, and I love this blog. I have some ultra-ripe bananas that are sitting for me at home waiting to be used. I’m in between moves, and took my bread pans down to the new place already, so I need to make a trip for a disposable. :)
    I agree that meat is hard to photograph too! No matter how good the recipe, unless its a Thanksgiving turkey, it just looks wrong!

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