Brown Butter Blueberry Banana Bread: Teaching basics

A couple of weeks ago, one of my students texted me agitatedly (yes, I am that good at reading tone in texts), as she was rather flustered at her inability to find the person who was to conduct her college alumni interview.  We had a rapid fire conversation via text, back and forth, as I tried to help her find the interviewer, and she tried to make eye contact with a variety of people who could possibly be said interviewer.

After the interview start time had passed by 15 minutes, I suggested that she make a phone call.  Her text response was, “I’m a millennial.  I don’t make phone calls.  I only do text.  WHAT DO I SAY?”

I began laughing hard, as she couldn’t see me, and texted back, “Would you like me to call her pretending to be you?”

There was a pause and then she texted back, “I almost said yes, but I think I need to do this.  Just help me figure out what to say.”

I texted back a simple script for her to be able to say on the telephone, and then she quickly executed and discovered her interviewer had, indeed, forgotten about the interview.

And it may sound strange that I have to coach students through a phone call, but sometimes I just teach the basics.  And in teaching the basics, I help students do all sorts of things from writing emails to teachers (how to be polite, clear, and concise in your request) to figuring out how to use a dictionary properly (not as a foot rest or head rest) or how to format papers on google docs.  It is the basics that help the students get through the bigger tasks and it’s important to remember that without the basics, the more complex tasks can’t be successful.  I feel lucky that at any given moment I’m trying to break things down to the basics.

Banana bread is also one of those basic baking tasks, for how else can one use up all the brown bananas that simultaneously ripen at the same time.  If you know how to make banana bread, in any type of permutation, you have the basics.  But this is a banana bread with a couple of fun twists, including browning the butter to add a bit of extra flavor and the addition of blueberries.  It definitely isn’t that much more challenging, especially if you understand the basics of banana bread, but it’s a lot more interesting and delicious.

I took a version from Bobby Flay’s book Brunch at Bobby’s: 140 Great Recipes for the Weekend which has a lot of great recipes, but I adapted this one, as I had eight bananas turning way too brown for my liking.

The brown butter is what changes this banana bread up a bit, so try not to skip that step – it’s an extra 5 or 6 minutes in a saucepan, and then you’re ready to roll!

Brown Butter Blueberry Banana Bread (adapted from Brunch at Bobby’s)
Makes 1 loaf
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium overly ripe bananas (black skins are fine), peeled and halved
½  cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼  teaspoon kosher salt
¼  teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional, but it’s a nice backnote)
1 cup fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 8 or 9 inch loaf pan.
Put butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, and cook until butter turns golden brown and it stops popping and bubbling, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork until smooth. Whisk in sugar, browned butter, honey, egg and vanilla extract.  Add in baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Mix one last time.  Gently add in flour and mix until just combined.  Fold in blueberries.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick comes out clean, between 45 and 55 minutes. Allow read to cool in pan 15 minutes and then rest on a rack for 30 minutes, before slicing.

This bread is best the day of when still slightly warm.

Printable recipe

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