​What's with all the banana bread?

kasey Schumacher

what's with all the banana bread—kasey schumacher—may 2020

As the days and weeks of staying safe at home continue, I find myself looking at patterns and trends on social media. It's no wonder digital media consumption has increased across the board and includes all generations. People of all ages and walks of life have shared and consumed more content on social media platforms – from streamed music performances to Instagram Q&A templates to TikToks.

Between streaming episodes of Tiger King and watching John Krasinski's latest good news video, I saw a lot of banana bread across the Internet. It seemed like I couldn't go a day without seeing someone post some picture, Boomerang, or video of their freshly made bread. More than cookies, cakes, or pies, I've noticed banana bread. I know I'm not the only one to see it, either. A Google Trends search of the term “banana bread” yields interesting results and shows how googling the recipe has increased exponentially in the past several weeks. I've seen memes poking fun at the fact that people's go-to response in a global pandemic seems to be breadmaking.

I am no stranger to making banana bread. I'm no stranger to baking in general. I bake when I'm bored, sad, happy, anxious, excited, etc. I can't think of a time where my house hasn't had some type of homemade dessert available – global pandemic or not. The uptick in banana bread posts and pictures have me questioning why this is happening. Why is this particular recipe the new (but old) kid on the block? Once I started thinking about it on a deeper level, I came up with a few reasons why banana bread is soaring in popularity.

Making banana bread allows us to repurpose something. While I haven't been hoarding, I have used my few-and-far-between grocery runs to stock up on food. Even though I'm mindful, having more food in the house means there's a higher chance produce will go bad. Instead of tossing out fruit that's beyond its prime, making banana bread allows us to take something too ripe and potentially destined for the waste bin, and put it to good use. I've spent a considerable amount of time in this quarantine reflecting on how unintentionally wasteful I've been in the past. It's small, but repurposing limp and mushy fruit into something delicious makes me feel less wasteful.

Banana bread comes to mind when someone pictures comfort food. Banana bread reminds me of my mom and helping her make the treat as a child. Something is comforting about making a recipe from your past and enjoying a treat amid so much uncertainty and chaos.

Aside from being a comfort food, banana bread is an easy yet versatile recipe. I'm not a master chef by any means, but I can make a mean banana bread. Banana bread recipes contain affordable ingredients found on the shelves of most homes and don't require an insane amount of baking technique or experience. For those looking to be more experimental, banana bread can be dressed up or down. By tweaking or adding ingredients, the bread can be made into something out-of-the-ordinary.

Baking also gives us something else to do. There's only so much Netflix to watch, laundry to do, bathrooms to clean, and books to read. I have a hard time sitting still, even when I'm not at home all day long. People, including myself, use baking as an activity, and often a method of self-care. Baking can be a creative way to use your hands. Something about measuring all the ingredients, putting it together in just the right way, and making something delicious can be therapeutic for many people.

Not only is it something to do, but baking can also involve the whole family. I've seen parents use baking as math and science lessons during this school-from-home period. My son is too young to understand concepts of fractions of cups, but he knows that he can mush bananas in a Ziploc bag for mama! He gets such joy out of squishing the fruit. Making banana bread has become a way to pass the time and enjoy an activity together.

Finally, in a small way, it gives us a sense of accomplishment. I can't be the only one who has felt defeated in this global COVID-19 pandemic. Things seem bleak and gloomy. No one is exactly sure how or when life will get back to what we perceive as “normal.” Baking allows us to take an hour or two and create an easy-to-reach achievement. In a small way, I feel a sense of pride whenever I take something out of the oven that turned out just right.

So, I say, keep sharing those photos of your banana bread creations. Keep sharing your achievements, no matter how small they seem. Enjoy a moment of comfort. It may seem ridiculous, but scrolling through Instagram and seeing pictures of banana bread takes on a different meaning these days.

I'm looking forward to the time when I can look back, laugh, and say, “Wow, remember how many banana bread loaves I made in 2020?”

If you feel inspired to bake, I've included my personal favorite banana bread recipe here:

Banana Bread Mini Loaves, from the kitchen of Kasey Schumacher

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

3 ripe bananas, mashed

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

Dash of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease mini loaf pan with cooking spray.

Cream together butter and sugar using a stand or electric mixer (about 2-3 minutes).

Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, milk, and vanilla. Blend until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until combined. Carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Hand stir until batter forms.

Evenly divide batter in mini loaf pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean.

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