Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread

After traveling on the road, skiing down mountains, and falling asleep under heavy comforters hours before normal, my weekend vacation has come to an end. It's a bittersweet affair. I love to run away from "real life" for a moment, reveling in the suspended time only travel can lend. Even so, all good things must come to an end and (unfortunately) that also includes vacations. Returning to reality jolts my senses and it takes me a moment to realize that this is home and I'm back where I belong. I feel a great sense of loss, but for what I'm never quite certain.

Nevertheless, after a day or two, I settle back into reality as if nothing had changed (and maybe nothing really had).

The anticipation and build up before the trip, the rush to pack everything, the early morning turn out of the driveway, the frantic screaming to stop the car!, the last minute dash back inside to collect forgotten items, and finally hitting the highway, leaving the familiar brush of reality behindโ€”this is what I love about traveling. There are many more moments I have fallen for, but this is where they all begin.

Maybe my early start turns later than expected. Maybe, for once, I haven't left something behind. Maybe I make it all the way to the airport before I realize I've left my cell phone behind (which is only made more ironic after strongly asserting to everyone within earshot that if I didn't pack it, I don't need it). Sometimes the order of events is different, but it's the on ramp of the highway or the takeoff of the airplane that I look forward to most.

After coming home from my getaway and remembering once again that I do, indeed, like to bake, a loaf of banana bread with tropical flair seemed to fit my bittersweet mood just right. Pineapple and toasted coconut remind me of faraway places and the banana part of bread keeps me grounded. A balancing force for a Wednesday morning.

As I sit down to eat this bread, I can only dream of the tropical vacations to come...

This Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread combines the fruits of the tropics and dishes them up in a familiar experience. Pineapple chunks and coconut flakes are scattered throughout the bread, with a sprinkling of toasted coconut to round off the top. The bread is moist and flavorful on its own, though it pairs perfectly with a pat of butter. It's just the right combination of flavors to bring sunshine up an ordinary weekday.

One Year Ago: Cereal and Milk Bars

Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread
Adapted from Joy the Baker

Yields 1 standard loaf

2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup light olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, plus extra for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas, olive oil, and sugar, mixing well. Stir in flours, baking soda, salt, and ground ginger. Fold in pineapple and 1/2 cup coconut flakes. Place batter in prepared pan and sprinkle top with coconut flakes until lightly covered.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until coconut is toasted and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool further.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with a small pat of butter.