Now all the backlogs in my life caused by my self-imposed downtime are coming up from behind to kick me into gear - it's been what feels like an endless climb to catch up but I can see the top of the pile now and with luck getting back to regular blog updates will be next on the agenda! Thank you to everyone who's sent me messages of good luck and health, they came through and I'm definitely halfway there.
One of the things I had made way back when school started at the beginning of September was an homage to the good old lunchbox staple of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Neither I nor my sister actually got to be a part of that stereotypical lunchtime crowd, though, since for our entire elementary school careers we had to live the allergy-free schoolroom life. Even at home, for some odd reason, neither of us ever really favoured the PB&J. My sister in fact never developed a fondness for either condiment, and though I liked both peanut butter and jam just fine on their own, I was way more inclined to make myself a plain (thickly slathered) peanut butter, peanut butter and honey or my personal favourite the peanut butter and golden syrup sandwich than to "taint" the mix with something like fruit! Jam, to me, had better be raspberry or cherry, and was for toast, nothing else.
I was quite particular about my peanut butter sandwich methodology too. The bread was either a single white or "plain" whole wheat regular-thickness slice, not too thick and never toasted. Crusts were fine (I was actually one of those crazy kids that adored the heel of the loaf), but they couldn't be so distinct or hard that they took away from the single-textured nature of the slice. My specifications were, of course, purely due to the whole mechanics of my perfect sandwich construction. Given the choice I would always make myself the fold-over style, so that I would get twice the amount of filling. Folding over the slice also eliminated the nasty single soggy slice phenomenon that would occur everytime the honey or syrup soaked into the unprotected slice (and no, it was- and is - not ever okay to butter the bread before making any sandwich other than a grilled cheese... even then it's only outside buttering). I hated the whole "toasted bread" factor because the warm bread would melt the peanut butter, giving it an unnerving texture contrast and odd flavour. Was I an OCD-disposed child? Sure. But I knew what I liked and I never had an issue making it for myself to assure "quality control"!
However, both my dad and my grandfather adore their peanut butter, honey and banana sandwiches, no matter how they come. It was with them in mind that I first started putting together the components of this recipe, and then as a nod to the traditional recipe secreting a ribbon of jam away inside the depths of each rich, dense loaf. I chose to make the use of some end-of-the-jar remnants of both a strawberry and blueberry preserve, one in each, so a variety of good taste could be sampled over the coming weeks. I divided the loaves between us, my grandparents and my dad, and even then we had to freeze some of our share since we were (in my mother's words) innundated with tasty, sweet things that were doing damage to her waistline and my stepdad's blood sugar. At least we know it freezes exceptionally well! In retrospect, I suspect that if you were to individually wrap and freeze slices of this bread you could simply pop them in your lunchbag in the morning and they would be ready to go by noon.
PB & J Banana Bread
Makes 2 loaves of 12 slices each
2 cups flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups thick Greek yogurt (full fat)
8 large, over-ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 tbsp smooth peanut butter (not natural-style)
1 tbsp vanilla
2/3 cup all-fruit jam or preserves (like Smuckers Simply Fruit), warmed until easily drizzled
- Preheat oven to 350F, grease and flour 2 loaf pans well.
- In a medium bowl combine flours, oats, cinnamon, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together yogurt, bananas, sugar, peanut butter and vanilla until well blended.
- Add the dry ingredients and stir quickly yet gently to combine. A few lumps are okay.
- Divide 2/3 of the batter between the pans, then spoon a line of preserves down the centre of each loaf.
- Top with remaining batter, covering the preserves completely.
- Bake on the lowest rack of the oven for 65-70 minutes, tenting with foil after 30 minutes.
- Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 3.3 g
Cholesterol: 2.7 mg
Sodium: 62.6 mg
Total Carbs: 40.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g
Protein: 4.3 g