“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson. Montana is known as Big Sky Country, but here in Washington, we have our fair share of big skies too. Believe it or not, Washington offers up much more than Pike Place Market, rainy days and coffee junkies. Upon moving to the Pacific Northwest, we had no idea we’d be greeted with glorious warm, sunny summers, the calm waters of the Puget Sound and access to not one, but five majestic mountain ranges. The Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier to the East, Mount Baker to the North, Mount St. Helens to the South and last, but not least, the Olympic National Park to the West. Our favorite hike of them all lies in the Olympic National Park at Hurricane Ridge. This park rivals any other in our great National Park System. Atop the summit, you can see clear across to Canada. It’s surreal.
The other weekend, before we headed out, I decided to bake a loaf of banana bread. It was early morning, so I figured it would be nice to start the weekend off with a slice (or two) of fresh, warm bread straight from the oven for breakfast, and then some more later for a post-hike-celebratory treat. Ahh, yes, the ubiquitous banana bread recipe.
Everyone has a favorite version. Whole grain, low-fat, vegan, quinoa, eggless, sourdough, or Mom’s spiced with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cocoa, ginger, or bourbon and combined with cherries, blueberries, mango, apples, peanut butter, pecans or zucchini. It’s the sort of recipe that’s been picked, poked and prodded – and then prodded some more. Around here, our favorite version comes in the form of a loaf laden with dark chocolate chips and…well, … more chocolate chips. C’mon now, it’s more like a dessert than a ‘bread’, since a scoop of vanilla ice cream seems to somehow always make its merry way onto the plate (especially Tony’s plate), as a welcomed accompaniment.
So I figured having dessert for breakfast before or after Hurricane Ridge, might not be the smartest idea. Instead, I decided to try out (yet) another new recipe that didn’t involve too much butter, sugar or chocolate. But had plenty of coconut, walnuts and lime juice. Yum, yum and yum again.
The results: a light, moist, sweet and tangy bread with a delectable coconut topping and lime glaze.
On any ordinary day, this would have been a shining moment. However, when you’re up 6000 feet, above the clouds, with nothing but staggering, awe-inspiring beauty completely surrounding you, it’s hard to think of much else. It was so insanely beautiful and the silence so piercingly deafening…I could barely believe what I could not hear. I realized, for the first time in my life, I heard silence. True silence. This must be the language of the sky.
Hurricane Ridge Banana Bread
Tweaked from Cooking Light
The lime glaze is key to the scrumptiousness of this banana bread, so don’t even think about leaving it out. I even kept the extra to smear on each slice for an extra punch. I’m crazy like that.
Music Pairing: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup + 1/8 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
- 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 3 tbsp dark rum
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup toasted flaked sweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- Cooking spray
- 1 tbsp flaked sweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, rum, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in toasted coconut and walnuts.
Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely on wire rack.