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Banana bread was my gateway drug into baking. In high school, I became mildly obsessed with making good, moist banana bread. Sometimes, I even tried to be healthy about it and use whole wheat flour and minimize the fat content (clearly, I was slightly crazy). For me at least, it was pretty idiot-proof baking and gave me confidence to try other things, like pumpkin pie, cookies, raspberry cream-cheese brownies, pumpkin cheesecake, simple as they may have been for veteran bakers. During college and beyond, baking fell by the wayside, being only a mild obsession after all. I only broke out the flour and sugar when Thanksgiving rolled around. And even when one birthday, my amazing friends pooled their money and splurged on an orange KitchenAid mixer for me (!!!), I still didn’t bake as regularly as I would have liked.

Banana bread in a buttered and floured pan before it goes in the oven

But recently, a surge in quickly browning bananas has spurred me to try baking again. I haven’t shipped my mixer over from the East Coast yet, but one of the great things about banana bread is that you really don’t need one. The basic ingredients in any banana bread recipe are generally pretty cheap, which, being poor, makes it the ideal baked good to make. I’m pretty terrible about holding onto recipes (both ones I like and ones I want to try), but I’ve been trying harder to keep a firm grasp on them. After a little hunting around, I happened upon this one from one of my new bosses. It worked perfectly, although I left out the candied ginger which I didn’t have lying around and added a ½ cup more of the walnuts because, hey, I like nuts in every bite, don’t you? It was also a wonderful Valentine’s Day present for my mother, who used to be the happy consumer of my banana bread experiments back in high school.

Ta-da! Oven magic!