It’s Teacher Appreciation Week around these parts, and it’s also “Magnolia Table” season.
Of course, that’s the name of Joanna Gaines’ debut cookbook, which is flying off shelves at a rate we haven’t seen in recent years.
According to Publisher’s Weekly, Gaines’ book sold 169,000 copies the first week, topping bestseller lists. For comparison, “the bestselling cookbooks of the last two years, 2017’s ‘Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It’ by Ree Drummond, and Ina Garten’s 2016 book ‘Cooking for Jeffrey,’ sold 100,000 and 110,000 copies, respectively, in their first weeks on sale.”
I’ve been cooking from “Magnolia Table” ahead of a livestream on Wednesday, where I’ll explain the story behind her mom’s bulgogi, one of dozens of Texan-Korean-Midwestern recipes you’ll find the book.
As I’ve mentioned in previous coverage, Gaines’ Instagram-friendly book hits a sweet spot between Texicana and what we might call the Anthropologie aesthetic. Gaines’ food brand is less “down home” than Ree Drummond’s, but I’ve been enjoying her family friendly recipes, including this banana bread I made over the weekend.
I made it to send to school with my kids for their teachers, but I had to sample some first. Because, quality assurance.
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The cinnamon sugar on top added just the right texture to keep the bread from being too soft and squishy. That leads to another revelation from Gaines’ recipe: Serving banana bread in brownie-like squares from a brownie-like pan. With a stick of butter and a cup of sugar, these treats are more like blondies than a breakfast bar, but they are an irresistible snack, no matter the time of day.
Banana Bread with Pecans and Sugar on Top
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 to 5 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for topping (optional)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray or parchment paper. (You can use a loaf pan or muffin tins, but the baking times will vary.)
Using an electric handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl until well mixed. Add the bananas and mix until just combined. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat until just combined. Stir in the nuts, if using. (You can substitute chocolate chips.)
Spread the batter in the pan and sprinkle with the additional sugar, if using. (This adds a sweet crust to the top of the bread, but it is optional. I used leftover cinnamon sugar for toast.)
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool to the touch and then cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature, with additional butter, if desired.
Store, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days. Serves 9.
— Adapted from a recipe in “ Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering” by Joanna Gaines (William Morrow, $29.99)