Hello, friends! In this special blog post, I’m taking a massive leap: I’d like to invite you into my kitchen. Our house is located in Fairplay, about 20 minutes south of where you’ll be staying in Breck while you’re visiting us. This means I’m baking at 10,600 feet!
Let’s start with an introduction of you to my alter ego, Julia. Technically, my name is Julia (named after the famous chef) but my parents have called me Julie my entire life. (Identity crisis much?) Julia shows up in the kitchen whenever I bust out the flour and measuring devices. She’s a whiz at “mise en place” (a French culinary phrase which means "putting in place" or "everything in its place") and loves to clean as she goes. She’s a bit neurotic when it comes to her kitchen and won’t let anybody in unless they’ve been assigned a specific task — except for my toddler, Sydney. Syd’s a good sous chef (or “poux chef,” as my husband calls her). The little culinary critter even has her own special section for prep work.
A few years ago, I launched a private chef business in Lake Tahoe, Calif., which included my own series on the local television station with weekly broadcasts from my home kitchen. I won regional chili cook offs with my original Hell’s Delight Chili (named after a ski run at Kirkwood) and had several recurring celebrity clients over the winters and summers. I gained training from the local culinary college, which at the time was one of the top schools in the U.S. thanks to our head chef and instructor, Chef Steve Fernald.
Okay, enough about me! Let’s get to the fun stuff. When my new team at Summit Mountain Rentals found out that I’m a kitchen geek, they thought it would be cool if I started a section of the blog dedicated to sharing my recipes with you, along with some tips on high-altitude cooking. Some of these recipes will be a little more advanced than others; some will be relatively easy and good for any level of experience. Each recipe I share with you will have a difficulty rating, similar to what you’ll see while skiing: green circles for beginners, blue squares for intermediates, and black diamond for experts. Capiche?
Now, to the first recipe:
Banana Bread with an Altitude Problem
Culinary Rating: Blue Square
Yield: two loaf pans, one large bundt pan or 24 muffins.
- 6 to 7 ripe bananas (with at least a few brown spots)
- 1 cup of UNSALTED butter
- ½ cup of C&H granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
- ½ cup King Arthur Unbleached Wheat Flour (or you can just use an additional ½ cup of the AP flour, above)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- Optional: 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips or 1 cup of walnuts or pecans
- Heat oven to 350 ℉. Grease pans or place paper muffin cups in TWO 12 cup muffin pans.
- Meanwhile, mash bananas using a potato masher or your hand mixer.
- Add butter, sugar and eggs. Cream mixture with hand mixer.
- Add dry ingredients and blend until just combined. Do not over mix!!!
- Scoop batter into prepared pans or muffin cups. If making muffins, fill slightly less than ¾ full.
- Bake loaf in oven for 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean when inserted into center of loaf. Bundt pan: 55 to 60 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Muffins: 30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.
- Cool loaf or bundt pan 30 minutes prior to slicing. Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then remove when able to handle to a cooling rack.
- Serve with butter and don’t enjoy… DEVOUR!
In Breck at 9,600 feet, you can expect bananas to turn brown within 3 to 4 days of purchase from the local store. If you’re staying with us for a full week or longer, that means you’ll have a special homemade treat for your final days of vacay in Summit! Pick up the yellowest bananas you can get, leave ‘em on the counter (or even near a window for maximum browning speed) and they may get brown even faster than that. Once they start to turn, you’ll be able to make this bread. They don’t have to be totally brown. A few spots works fine.
Tune in next time, folks! If you have any tips on baking at altitude, please leave them in the "Comments" section below.