Surprise, surprise, it turns out that having a baby gets in the way of one’s cooking ambitions a little bit.
On weeknights, the time that I used to devote to making dinner is now all about my son — the playing, the feeding, the pyjama-ing, the cuddling, the singing — and the few moments that I do spend in the kitchen I make the absolute most of, with quick recipes that require the bare minimum in the way of prep.
Let’s say we’ve been eating a lot of roasted root vegetables with tahini sauce: ten minutes’ active work while the kid chews on the lemon juicer, forty-five minutes’ oven time while we do the above routine.
Impossibly moist and fluffy, this cake is made with ingredients you most likely have on hand, including the overripe bananas I’m sure you stash in your freezer too.
I am actually working on a series of posts titled Parents Who Cook, asking various guests how they’ve adapted their cooking after their children were born. The idea for the series came about because I am dying to pick other people’s brains about the subject, and I hope you will find it of interest, too.
As my boy grows older and has more patience puttering about on his own in the evening — even better, can help out and earn his keep! — I imagine it will get easier, but in the meantime I am still figuring things out, and collecting ideas for meals that sort of cook themselves*.
Banana coconut bread may or may not count as a meal, but this recipe by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, which I read about on my friend Luisa’s blog in the wake of her own son’s birth, does qualify as a treat that practically bakes itself.
And a treat it certainly is: no eggs and (in my version) no butter, but impossibly moist and fluffy nonetheless, it is made with ingredients you most likely have on hand, including the overripe bananas I’m sure you stash in your freezer too.
A treat to look forward to sharing when the kid is in bed, and you finish savoring your lovely grown-up dinner and lovely grown-up conversation, and you look at your watch and say, “He hasn’t been down for two hours and we miss him already, how is that even possible ?”
* On that subject, take a look at Debbie Koenig’s Parents need to eat too.
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- 260 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon warm baking spices (such as a pumpkin pie or gingerbread mix, with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 180 grams (1 scant cup) unrefined cane sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
- 50 grams (1/2 cup) dried grated unsweetened coconut
- 4 small or 3 large bananas, very ripe (about 300 grams or 2/3 pound without the skin), thawed if frozen
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- 1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and line a 23 x 12-cm (9 x 5-inch) loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spices, salt, 180 grams (1 scant cup) sugar, and coconut. Stir well to combine. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas well. Add the oils, rum, and vinegar, and stir to combine.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones until no trace of flour remains, without overmixing. Pour into the prepared pan, level the surface with a spatula, and sprinkle with the tablespoon sugar.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is browned and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Pull out from the pan and let cool on a rack before serving.
Adapted from Jeffrey Alford's and Naomi Duguid's Home Baking via Luisa Weiss.