Italian in my Banana Bread

Weekends are for experiments; Trying out new ideas, recipes, restaurants, activities.. you know, life. Monday to Friday blurs in a flurry of routine, structure, commuting schedules, outlook reminders, being yelled at, coffee with colleagues/friends to cope and bitch, evenings with significant others to bemoan the troubling boss/team, you know, boring stuff that pays bills... and, for weekends!

I can't remember the last memorable thing that I have done during the weekdays that has not been eclipsed by the weekend! Sure, there have been times when I have whooped and thought this was the best day ever, when I closed that amazing deal, or when I was promoted, or when I delighted in seeing a movie mid-week (!!! shock-horror!!!) or I ran into a long lost someone and we shared a coffee spontaneously (happens all too rarely!).. or.. or....

Then the weekend comes along and wipes away all of those amazing accomplishments, with a jaunty 'Tchah!'. For it affords the simplest of pleasures; The silence of the alarm. On Saturday morning. And, on Sunday! That's it people. The biggest happiness sucker is that alarm setting on the phone./clock/TV/Radio/Xbox (GAH!)/whatever. The joy of not having something going off loudly just as you plunge into the deepest, most luscious moments of blissful non-existence and just getting to the finish line of that splendid dream, is a luxury surpassing none! Don't you think?!

Weekends. You can wake when you are ready to; open your eyes without fighting their stubbornness to stay stuck. There is certainly a smile playing on your lips because you have a whole two days of being able to do things that you really like doing.... Experimenting with life!

When it starts like that, most days go well, yeah?! Resoundingly yes! 

These days, I bake and cook a lot during the week as well. I draft, tweak, create as course of normal day. Yet, I reserve my most desired experiments for the weekend. Because, then I can share. I can cook for more and make more people smile, and, that is a joy that no amount of amazing creations can match. I look forward to waking up early on weekends.

Plus, the best thing about weekends is that they make Mondays so much more tolerable and better! If for nothing more but the memories of plates and laughter shared. It is even better when you have leftovers for breakfast or lunch. 

This gluten free banana bread is one such weekend creation that keeps giving for days into the week! I actually made this at the start of Winter when chestnuts were just coming in. Chestnuts are dear favorite of mine and I think the best thing about the cold months! Yes, even more than citrus. Freshly roasted chestnuts are everything romantic and I can eat all day (as I did in Istanbul, actually!) and then there is chestnut soup. Oh! I remember having the most decadent chestnut cappuccino in Paris at Cafe Angelique.

Ever since my visit to Italy, back in 2012, and tasting the castagnaccio by Giulia, I have loved chestnut flour and the amazing nutty flavor and aroma it brings to baked goods. As American as banana bread is, this really is an Italian inspired version. Not just for the chestnut flour, but also the binding agent in this cake is potato starch, an ingredient that has its ancient usage in Italian culinary history in several amazing cakes, like this one or this. Also, I use olive oil instead of butter and that makes it more moist.

So that's the story and here is the cake.

Here is wishing for a quick week ahead. When you get to Saturday, make this cake. Then, when you wake up groggily to that alarm on Monday and sleepily put that espresso on, you can marvel at your foresight, cut yourself a thick slice of the bread and inhale both that and the espresso in one shot... Just like Italians do it.. And, we all know, they do it right!


Chestnut Banana Bread

2 ripe bananas

1/2 cup chestnut flour

1/3 cup potato starch

1/4 cup olive oil

scant 1 tsp baking soda

5-6 T raw sugar (based on sweetness of bananas)

1 -2 T heavy cream

Coconut flakes for garnish (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Slit one banana lengthwise into four slices. Reserve two of the slices and mash the rest with the other banana.

In the same bowl, add all the ingredients and whisk to a smooth batter (apart from the fruit) making sure that the starch does not lump.

Pour batter into a prepared pan. Arrange the reserved banana slices on top and sprinkle the coconut flakes, if using.

Bake for 40 minutes until golden and springy to touch and the banana slices have caramelized.