Bags of Bananas
It's the end of August and the bananas are finally ripe in South Florida. I don't have a banana tree on my property so I haven't been paying attention to their ripening progress. But yesterday a grocery bag full of banana's mysteriously showed up hanging on my fence. Am I the only one to get a bag full of bananas? I look around and can't find the donor of these luscious treats. These aren't your grocery store type, these are the little succulent ones that grow in neighborhood yards.
I am assuming the mysterious bag of bananas came from one of my neighbors that is usually the recipient of my baked goods. I love to bake and am one of few on my island to do so. So I guess someone wants banana bread! Another challenge for my baking prowess-I have no recipes for banana's. Give me a pile of apples and I would have a tough time deciding which of my dozens of recipes to make.
Now, what do I do with the bananas? I was told by a friend that I am lucky to have them, they are hard to get and I was told I need to make something with them fast as they go bad quick. I noticed this morning, two days after they arrived on my fence, that they are indeed ripe and ready for processing.
So off I go this morning looking for a recipe on the internet. It is not easy to find a recipe for these banana's, most recipes are for the store bought type. So to start I need to find out what kind of banana's these are. Armed with a very fragrant bunch of bananas at my side and a computer, I will now begin my search and report my findings in a minute.
The Banana Palm Tree
The Banana Palm Tree has the scientific name Musa and comes from Asia. There are many varieties, but the ones we see in South Florida grow in clusters of 6 to 8 foot high plants producing bunches of 5 inch long fruits. I have read the plants only produce one crop and die hence the reason they self propagate forming groups of plants to ensure their survival.
The plant when mature will produce a flower that is red and about 8" long. From the flower growing up the stem the banana's are created. This is one of the most beautiful and interesting creations of nature. The flower dries up but retains it's brilliant red color through the ripening period.
From my personal experience with these palms, plant owners guard their trees and won't share their crops. The trees only produce one cluster of bananas each and most plant owners only have a few productive plants. I am lucky someone thought enough of my baking skills to generously give me the mysterious bag of bananas.
What to Do With a Bag of Bananas?
Bananas are not one of my favorite fruits. If you have read my other story about Mango Madness, you know I don't do fruit! I hate peeling fruit, so now I have another challenge with the bananas, hence the internet research on what to do with them.
I am beginning to think it is Banana Madness on our island. I asked a few friends what they suggest I do with the bag of bananas and the stories start about so-and-so's banana plants and how to get some.
The most popular options for a bag of bananas:
- Slice and Freeze them for future use
- Banana Bread - the most popular option!
- Banana Muffins
- Banana Cream Pie
- Banana Pudding
- Banana Bread Pudding
- Banana Cookies
- Banana Smoothies
- Frozen Banana Sorbert or Popsicles
- Bananas Foster
- Banana Pancakes or French Toast for breakfast
I noticed while looking at recipes that a lot use chocolate, so I guess banana's and chocolate are a winning combination.
9 Bananas - Here's What I Did With Them
Pictured here are the (9) 5" long bananas I need to process. Most recipes say 2 or 3 bananas but they refer to the regular store bought ones. I had to find recipes that have measurements like 1 cup Mashed Bananas.
So the first step is mashing up the bananas to see how many cups I have, then I can proceed. I have selected a Banana Rum Bundt Cake to make that uses 1 cup of mashed bananas, so if I end up with more than a cup I will have to make more than one cake! Stay tuned—I am off to my Mash Fest!
I'm back - the cake is in the oven, the sun is setting, the sky is a kaleidoscope of colors, and my house smells like Rum with a slight hint of cake—island life at it's best!
I mashed up 4 bananas resulting in a little over a cup of banana; just enough for the Banana Rum Cake. The recipe I chose was easy—-cake mix, bananas, eggs, lots of rum and pecans. In the old days, you greased and floured your pan—for the first time in my life I followed the recipe and used Pam, spraying my heavy metal bundt pan generously right before I poured the batter in. The cake baked for 50 minutes exactly and raised nicely with a golden crusty top. The recipe calls for a powdered sugar glaze, but I will skip the glaze as I am a baked bread purist not wanting to hide the bread flavor behind sweetness. 10 minutes of cooling, pop the cake out of the pan and let it cool for an hour before refrigerating. Tomorrow I will taste the creation and let you know how it came out and if it's good I will post the recipe.
Just to let you know, living on an island calls for special treatment of baked goods—everything goes in the refrigerator. Between the bugs and the humidity even with the A/C on, you must refrigerate all bread and pastries because they turn to mush and mold within a day. Nothing survives our harsh environment. A month ago I made a Mango Bread and wanted to taste it with a crunchy crust, so I put it in the oven thinking it will be fine the next morning. Well, I self destructed the bread by turning on the oven to preheat forgetting the bread was inside (I never store anything in the oven hence forgetting it was in there). As you can guess I toasted the Mango Bread! Note to self "don't put anything in the oven!"
It is now the next morning, the Banana Rum Cake was in the refrigerator overnight. I just had a piece and it was excellent! Moist, rum flavored bliss best describes this cake. So here is the recipe, I used yellow cake mix.
Banana Rum Cake
adapted from allrecipes.com
1 (18.25 ounce) package white or yellow cake mix
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup dark rum
2/3 cup water
(or use 1 c. rum & 1/3 cup water)
1 cup mashed bananas
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Spray non-stick bundt pan with cooking spray (I wait till batter mixed then spray)
In a large bowl, mix up eggs for a 1/2 a minute then add cake mix, baking soda, rum, water. Beat on medium speed 2 to 4 minutes. Add bananas and nuts, beat till combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes and then invert cake onto cooling rack. Cool then refrigerate.
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum
Combine 1/3 cup butter or margarine with the confectioners sugar, vanilla and rum. Beat until smooth. Drizzle over cake.
**Note: This recipe makes more than enough frosting. You could easily cut this in half and still have more than enough frosting for the cake.
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 T. skim milk
1/8 tsp. rum extract
Mix all ingredients and drizzled it over the cake.
Avocado's are almost ready with trees everywhere on our island - come back soon for my next story on Avocado's.
Will a bag of Avocado's mysteriously appear on my fence soon?