Aunt Anna’s Banana Bread

Looking back, I realize I’ve always tried to woo men with baked goods.

The first time I baked for a boy, it was my high school sweetheart. I was 15, and it was Valentine’s Day. I made him my mom’s classic white cake – from scratch of course. Four layers of amazing vanilla cake, vanilla bean frosting, and then I decorated it with actual sugared rose petals that were edible. Looking back, it’s no wonder we dated for three years.

It wasn’t just my boyfriends who received sweets – I used to bake a batch of cookies for my grandpa each week and take them to him in his nursing home on my way home from school. Since I got bored always making chocolate chip, I started experimenting with my own, made-up recipes. His face would light up into a big smile as I walked in with a large Tupperware, and he’d always say “Cookies?! Hmm… never heard of them!” in his deep, baritone voice.
We later learned he’d dole them out to the nurses he wanted special treatment from. They were like currency!

It was during that time that I really fell in love with baking, and especially inventing recipes. It earned me the nickname “hit or miss” among my siblings because sometimes, the things I created would be amazing (s’mores cookies), and sometimes they would totally flop (Peep’s cake).

While I’ve never liked to cook, I love to be behind a Kitchenaid. I can often be found making a homemade pie crust at midnight, frosting two dozen cutouts to send off to a friend, or googling ideas for how to use an excess of egg yolks after making a morning egg-white frittata.

Baking is my love language. You know I’m sweet on you if I’ve creamed butter and sugar into something amazing and delivered to your door. It’s a sure sign.

Elvis, my ten-month nephew, is the most recent object of my affection. When isolation first began, I feared I was going to be alone, with no one to kiss, for a very long time. But then I came to Laurel Canyon to help my sister – and gained the most kissable roomie EVER.

But, since I was the last sibling to join the California Rescue Cabin, I was a distant third choice in the lineup of people he would willingly let love on him. The ranking goes:
MOM – first (obviously)
Uncle Todd – second (fair enough)
Aunt Anna – distant 3rd (damn)

Sure, he’d smile and flirt from afar – but if I tried to hold him while options 1 or 2 was in view – all hell broke loose.

So last week when I noticed the bananas on the counter were looking a bit too ripe – I had an idea. Maybe I can bake something for Elvis and make him love me… I’ve been able to win full-grown men over with baked goods, why should a tiny one be any harder to persuade? Especially when his current favorite food is puffs.

So I decided to whip up some banana bread. But, we were lacking flour. Times are tough and it is in short supply. But we did have 6 packages of this amazing, ancient grains pancake mix that I had shipped out here because I’ve been obsessed with it. Pancake mix is essentially just flour and baking powder, right? So I decided to use that, and make up a recipe. If was a hit – maybe I could use it to woo Elvis… If it was a miss – nothing lost.

It was a hit! And while I can’t be entirely sure this was the thing that changed the game – as of today this kid lets me love on him, hold him, and dance with him in the kitchen. And today when Uncle Todd walked in while he was in my arms, he was perfectly content to stay right where he was, snuggled in my arms with a mouthful of banana bread. And a few Gerber puffs.

I must warn you – it’s so not your typical banana bread. It has a slightly gooey texture – so it tastes extra good toasted or grilled and served with some syrup like french toast. It’s also refined sugar free, gluten free, and has 55 grams of protein in it.

It’s outside-the-box banana bread, and that’s perfect for me.

Here’s the recipe! Happy baking (and tiny-man wooing!)

P.S. Tomorrow my May newsletter goes out, and I am sharing my family-favorite recipes for perfect vanilla cake, and the best chocolate cake, and all the easy variations. If you haven’t signed up already do it here!

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