On a recent visit to Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Beach Hotel I was reminded of what makes a resort so special. Spending a few days at this romantic Hawaiian property was as close to nirvana as I can imagine. White sand beaches, a blue-tiled swimming pool overlooking the sea and paths to walk near the ocean offer up memories galore.
My morning began with an extravagant breakfast buffet served on the oceanfront patio. My server offered me a slice of banana bread, presented in a napkin-wrapped basket. The bread awakened a taste memory that I had first enjoyed at the Mauna Kea decades ago on a family vacation. One bite and I was thrown back to our family’s most exciting venture to the resort at the time of its opening in the late ’60s.
I don’t know whether the flavor of the banana bread tasted so tropical because the bananas were plucked right off trees on the property or because the chef said the secret to its intense taste was using blackened bananas for a fuller, richer, sweet banana flavor. Either way, this tasty tea bread has a distinctly exotic accent and is fit for breakfast, brunch or tea
I found it interesting that the banana bread was served separately from all the other morning pastries and breads that had been elegantly arranged on the buffet table. Somehow that made the banana bread even more special.
Don’t worry if you feel like whipping this up and you don’t have ripe bananas. Just place the unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and place them in a 250-degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are blackened and soft. Let them cool, then peel the bananas and continue with the recipe. I make this bread in a food processor, but you can also use an electric mixer. To toast the walnuts, place them on a baking sheet. Toast them for 5 to 7 minutes or until the walnuts are fragrant and golden brown. Then let them cool.
There are a couple of ways to serve this delectable quick bread. You can slice it and arrange on a rectangular platter. You also can slice and place in a napkin-lined basket. It’s also pretty to serve on a wooden platter with just a couple of slices and then let your guests slice as they please. I usually accompany this with softened butter.
Diane Worthington has authored 18 cookbooks and is a James Beard Award-winning radio show host.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Banana Bread
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large, very ripe bananas
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch nonstick loaf pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Reserve.
Puree the bananas in a food processor. Add the sugar, oil and eggs to the mashed bananas and process for about 3 minutes or until light yellow and airy. Gradually add the flour mixture and process until well incorporated.
Add the vanilla and walnuts, and pulse a few times until incorporated. Transfer to the prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degree in the oven for 55 minutes to one hour or until a pick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for an hour. Invert onto a platter, slice and serve. Makes 1 large, 9-by-5-inch loaf; 8 generous servings.
Per serving: 541 calories; 28 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 47 percent calories from fat); 67 g carbohydrates; 33 g sugar; 46 mg cholesterol; 335 mg sodium; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber.