Banana Bread with Berries and Lilac Flowers

Sunday feels like the most decadent day. It’s the day we linger in bed long into the morning, watching the news and catching up on all the shows we missed during the week. Extra coffee is a must.  If you brew your coffee in a French press, try adding a tiny pinch of sea salt to the grounds before pouring in the hot water.  It neutralized the acid and brings out the flavours for a perfectly balanced cup coffee.

Morning coffee

Eventually the dogs will rouse my husband from bed. I’ll follow shortly to get started on a very late breakfast. Yesterday we had some overripe bananas on the counter (I always buy too many) so breakfast was banana bread with sugared strawberries & lilac flowers.  Lilac season is, hands-down, one of the highlights of my year. As a girl, I dreamt often of having a little house in the country surrounded by a white fence, lined with lilac bushes so that when the windows were open, the scent perfumed every corner of every room.  When we bought our house here in Colorado it was the blank slate on which we’ve been painting our dreams. The lilacs were one of the first things we planted.  They came from my grandparent’s garden and, when my grandparents passed away, we transplanted them around the perimeter of our property.  A life and a house built on dreams. . .  I’ve always been a hopeless romantic.

I love to bring the lilacs into every room of the house, in big vases and glass jars – and especially into the kitchen in my cooking.  If you grow lilacs in your garden you know that the bugs love them as much as we do. It’s essential to clean them well before cooking with them or using as a garnish.  First, give them a good shake outside to remove as many bugs as you can. It’s amazing how many tiny bugs will fall out of the petals once they’re cut.  Then pull off the flowers you want to use and place them in a small bowl of water with a few drops of vinegar or a produce cleaner, like FIT.  Swirl them around with your fingers, making sure all the flowers are evenly covered and let them soak for a minute.  Drain and fill the bowl with fresh water.  Swirl again and soak for another minute or two. Repeat this process if any bugs remain.  Drain the flowers and wrap them gently in paper towels until ready to use.

butterfly lilac

Banana Bread with Strawberries and Lilac

Banana Bread recipe

I love the laziness of Sundays even more now, during the Covid19 quarantine, when the days bleed into weeks and my time is stretched extra-thin between work and supervising the children’s school lessons on the weekdays.

Banana Bread with Strawberries and Lilac Flowers

This banana bread is light, without the heavy spices or nuts of traditional banana bread, making it the perfect bed on which to serve the strawberries.  Bananas and strawberries are such a classic combination.  I hope you’ll love these two recipes.

6 TBSP unsalted butter, softened (plus more for greasing the pan)
2/3 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 very ripe bananas, peeled

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.  Butter an 8×5 inch (20×13-cm) loaf pan and line with parchment paper, leaving the edges overhanging so that you can lift the bread from the pan when it’s done.

In a large bowl, with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Set a sieve over the bowl and sift in the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Beat until just combined.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Break the bananas into large pieces and beat them into the batter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth evenly.  Bake for 55 – 60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Cool for several minutes in the pan before removing (using the overhanging parchment).  Cool for several more minutes before slicing. Serve the bread with sugared strawberries and lilac flowers.

Strawberries with Lilacs

3/4 lbs (340g) strawberries, washed and hulled
2 TBSP confectioners sugar
2 TBSP organic lilac flowers, washed well

Cut the strawberries into quarters and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle with the sugar and toss to combine.  Let sit at room temperature stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the berries start releasing their juices.  Just before serving, sprinkle with the lilac flowers.

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