Banana-Bread Math

When I was working on my English degree, some of my fellow students thought I was a little odd. No surprise? Well, specifically, they thought it odd that I genuinely like math. In fact, I couldn’t get along without it.

Case in point…

Here's the finished product, PROOF that math works!

Here’s the finished product, PROOF that math works!

On Facebook, my niece Leah shared a yummy-looking recipe for Nutella Swirled Banana Bread. Naturally, a printed copy went into my file in the kitchen.

Weeks ago I noticed a neglected banana sitting on the counter, too ripe to eat.

Bingo.

So I peeled and mashed that sucker into a measuring cup. How much smooshy banana does it call for? Uh-oh… 1 1/2 cups. I’ve only got half a cup, or 1/3 enough banana.

No worries, you just divide the rest of the ingredients by 3 and make a sample-size loaf, right?

First, figure out what size pan you need. 4-by-8-inch loaf pan, divided by 3… 1/3 of 32 square inches = about 11 square inches. If I use a round pan it needs to be twice as big across as the square root of (11/pi), or 11/3.14. So, the square root of 3.5 = about 1.87, times 2… that gives you…

…an individual custard dish. (Retrieves a single custard dish from cabinet.)

Let’s see… 1/3 of 2 cups flour = 2/3 cup. Check.
1/3 of 3/4 tsp. baking soda? 1/4 tsp. Hah, easy! Check.
1/3 of 1/2 tsp. salt — use the 1/4-tsp spoon and don’t fill it full. Check.
1/3 of 1/4 cup butter = 1 1/3 Tbs (follow markings on wrapper… close enough.) Check.
1/3 of 1 cup sugar = obvious. Check.
1/3 of 2 large eggs = um, just take the smallest egg in the carton. Check.
Banana: put it ALL in, baby. Check.
1/3 of 1/3 cup plain lowfat yogurt. What… PLAIN LOWFAT YOGURT? Maybe I should have actually read the recipe first! Check fridge. NO yogurt of any kind.
But look, I still have some lowfat sour cream! I’m sure it will work. Just scoop in two tablespoons of that. Check.
Only, the carton was nearly empty… I didn’t have quiiite enough sour cream to substitute for the yogurt…
Fine. Add some liquid so it won’t be too dry. Maybe milk. You use milk in muffins, right? Banana bread is sort of muffin-esque…

By now I was pretty much done measuring. In went a splash or two of milk, then I dribbled in some vanilla straight from the bottle (Measuring spoon? me?? for VANILLA???? Pffft.) Now, to soften up some Nutella in a large mug. The recipe says to microwave it. The label says “Do Not Microwave.”

(Brief pause while chef puzzles over this, then sets the Nutella jar in warm water to soften the goods.)

Finally, 1/3 of 3/4 cup Nutella = 1/4 cup. Check.

Mix a cup–no, 1/3 cup–of the batter into the Nutella, then swirl the two batters together. Uh-oh, the custard dish is the right diameter but is not near deep enough. Sigh. Switch to whatever size pan looks like it should hold the stuff.

Bake for… um… Well, it says 60 minutes. Let’s just start with 20 minutes and then watch it reeeeal close-like.

Y’know, this experience brought “rounding” to a whole new level. That, and improvising.

By the way, the resulting bread was delicious!

And I owe it all to math.

Thanks for reading!
Jan

PS: I am linking up this week with the amazing zip-lining Jen, over at Finding Heaven Today.

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8 Responses to Banana-Bread Math

  1. Andrea says:

    I do this a lot – but this recipe sounds super yummy! I need to try it!

    Like

  2. saraleeperel says:

    Well, I for one, don’t think you’re just a “little” odd 🙂

    Like

  3. Jody Collins says:

    TOO funny! This teacher appreciates it.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Holiday Fiasco – I mean, FEAST. | Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story

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