Recipe: Slow Cooker Banana Bread

It's no secret I have a bit of wariness when it comes to baking. The exact measurements and precision behind it is always intimidating and it seems a lot of effort (and dishes left to wash) for a single cake or pie or whatever. But lately, perhaps because I'm getting older, I've found myself actually pining for some baked treats (an extreme rarity that's surprisingly becoming more common). What's particularly unusual is that, though I love fresh fruit of all kind, the mass-favorite banana is actually one of my least favorite fruit as I prefer fruits with some tang and kick to it (such as citrus and tropical fruits). But I began having major cravings for banana bread recently and, as I had some bananas sitting on the counter and quickly blackening one day, I decided to take a stab at making some banana bread bread via my trusty ol' slow cooker. I was surprised at the convenience and moist, tasty results and I've since made this a few more times for its low hassle, big rewards. And a big, warm slice of banana bread with just a pat of butter is a pretty nice treat after being out for hours or shoveling around your house (darn you, snow) in Korean winter...

If you have a slow cooker, but not an oven, or if it's the summer season and it's just too hot to get the oven cranking, this version should serve as a perfectly fine alternative. It also leaves a delicious, banana-y aroma in your house :)

Slow Cooker Banana Bread

You'll need:
- 2 cups of Flour
- 3 large and very ripe, Bananas (you can use 2 if you're short)
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 cup of Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp of Milk
- 1 stick of softened Butter (1/2 cup or around 227 grams)
- Handful of chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc- though optional)
- 1 tsp of Vanilla (optional)

1. Turn your slow cooker on high and lay a big piece of parchment paper/butcher paper in it. This makes for easier cleanup but you can alternatively use a greased metal insert or container. 

Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

2. Mash the bananas in another bowl.

3. Cream the butter with the sugar in a large bowl. Continue mixing as you add the eggs one at a time. Then add the milk and continue stirring until everything is combined.

4. Stir in the mashed bananas and stir a few times before gradually adding the flour mixture as well as the chopped nuts and vanilla if you choose to add these last two ingredients.

5. The batter should be relatively thick now and ready to be poured into the parchment paper lined slow cooker or greased metal insert. Cook on high for 2 hours.

Note: The cooking strength of your slow cooker depends on the manufacturer so be sure to check at the 2 hour mark and check again in every half hour increments until a toothpick inserted into the bread's center comes out clean.

6. Check for doneness by inserting a chopstick or toothpick into the center and ensuring it comes out clean. Then carefully lift the parchment paper (careful, it can break from the heavy bread) and leave the banana bread to cool.

The downside of using the parchment paper is that it's rather difficult to get the paper to be roundly placed to give the cake a perfectly smooth look. But I'm about convenience and feel it won't really matter once the banana bread gets cut heh.

Slice and serve as is when it's cooled or toast/microwave it with a nub of butter to make it an indulgence.