Swoonworthy

On this Hallmark-designated day of love, I give you a list of some of the things I find swoonworthy.

Before Sunset, #1: Celine singing A Waltz for Tonight, and Jesse realizing that it’s about him.
Before Sunset, #2:The last two lines of the movie:
…”Baby, you are gonna miss that plane.”
…”I know.”
Reading about my hometown in the Time Traveler’s Wife.
Singles; Roger Dodger; Big Night; basically, Campbell Scott.
Coconut lattes.
“Cause she’s the cheese and I’m the macaroni.”
The cinematic boys of my youth: Troy Dyer; Lloyd Dobler; Ronald Miller.
Taylor Kitsch in Friday Night Lights.

This cake.

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The inspiration for this recipe comes from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s HomeBaking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition around the World.  I’ve tweaked it a bit to suit my family’s tastes, subbing olive oil and yogurt for the butter and reducing the sugar.  The result is a rich loaf cake that tastes divine straight out of the pan, or sliced thick and lightly toasted.

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Coconut rum banana cake

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The trick to this loaf cake, I believe, is to purée – not mash – the banana. No rustic lumps and bumps for this batter; a smooth slurry makes all the difference. A dark, large grain sugar is preferable for sprinkling on top but not necessary. The demerara this recipe calls for will fill all the nooks and crannies of your batter, giving the top of this bread a nice bit of caramel-y, sugary crunch. A fine grain natural sugar tends to melt along the edges and crisp up down the center of the bread and tastes just as good. I suspect sucanat would be too dry. Lastly, frozen bananas are fantastic in this recipe.

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3 large, overripe bananas
2 cups spelt flour (I use 1 cup each of whole and white spelt)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of fine grain salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/8 teaspoon apple cider or distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon rum (dark or light, your preference)
1/2 cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon demerara or turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C with a rack in the center. Line a standard-size loaf pan with parchment paper or lightly oil.

In a blender or food processor, purée the bananas and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat together the oil, yogurt and sugar until fluffy. Add the vinegar and rum, and beat to mix well. Add the banana purée and the flour mixture alternately, about 1 cup at a time, beginning with the banana and beating to just incorporate. Use a spatula to fold in any flour that has not been absorbed, and stir in the coconut. Do not overmix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, and sprinkle evenly with the demerara sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes; then turn the loaf out of the pan and allow it to cool completely.

I suspect this loaf will keep, wrapped well, for a few days; however it never lasts more than 36 hours in our house. I find it best the second day, cut thick, lightly toasted and dotted with homemade vegan banana butter.

Yield: 1 loaf

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 60 minutes

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