(The Famous) Invisible Banana French Toast

I made this this morning, and realized with surprise that I had not put it up yet. This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, and it came from the first cookbook I ever owned, the DC Super Heroes Super Healthy Cookbook, given by my mother on Christmas when I was 6 years old. My mother wrote in the frontpaper,

“Dear Jocelyn, This is to start you on your way with cooking. After all the times you’ve helped me stir and measure, you’ll be a cinch to cook up yummy goodies on your own. With much love, Mommy – Christmas 1981.”

This was a frequent weekend breakfast at my house growing up. If you have slightly to moderately overripe bananas, this is the place to send them. I know you can make banana bread with them, (as my mom does) but really, are you going to have the time and patience to make banana bread every time you have a slightly overripe banana? This is really easy and quite fast, and it certainly doesn’t require all of the effort of banana bread. It also freezes and reheats like a charm. More than once, I’ve made a big batch of this and set it aside in the freezer. You can pop the slices in the toaster oven to toast for a few minutes, and they’re as good as when they first come out of the pan.

Back to the book. I absolutely loved this book as a kid. It (and my beloved mother, who made my baby food from scratch using a Foley food mill and who was feeding me wheat germ well before she gave me this volume) really did start me on the path to healthy eating and cooking that is my vocation and avocation to this day. The book has advice about reading ingredients listings (“The first one listed is the one there’s the most of. So make sure you’re not buying mostly water or sugar. Look closely at the label.”) and a two-page spread in the front of the book that explains cooking terms like “CRACK,” “BOIL,” and “SLICE,” with Batman-style action typography and super-clear explanations.

All the recipes are associated with a DC character. There’s Ma Kent’s Whole Wheat Pancakes, (Clark Kent says, “I’d love to know how she gets them to taste that good, but she keeps the recipe in a lead box!”) Wonder Woman’s Paradise Pop “The Soft Drink of Amazons,” (fruit juice concentrate and sparkling water), My Secret Pizza by Green Arrow (pizza inside a pita bread – I think I might make this sometime soon, it sounds so good!) and Supergirl’s Heat Vision Chicken (which includes the instruction “Place chicken pieces side by side in pan and bake in oven for 1 hour at 375, or cook for 2 minutes under heat vision if you have superpowers.” Aren’t these great ideas? The food is very healthy, and the fresh fruit and vegetable quotient is very high, unlike most kids’ cookbooks, which are all hot dogs and cupcakes.

On the facing page of the food shot of this French toast are Batman, holding a magnifying glass, and Robin, along with him. Batman is saying, “Perplexing, Robin. The French Toast certainly TASTES like banana, but I can’t detect the PRESENCE of one. Very curious.” Robin replies, “The answer is alimentary, caped crusader. You get that taste by putting the banana in the Batman, batter…er, I mean, in the batter, Batman.”

This serves 2, and can be multiplied by however many eggs and bananas you have. Each egg-and-banana will cover about three slices of bread, which serves 2.

1 egg
1 banana
1/2 t. cinnamon
3 slices whole grain (important!) bread (This batter is heavy stuff, and needs a bread with good tensile strength.)
butter or oil for the pan (I find a combination works best, and I use a nonstick pan – if you find that your egg mixture is failing to stick to the bread, your pan needs more fat.)

Preheat the oven to 200. Put egg, banana, and cinnamon in the blender and blend until smooth. You can also mash the banana thoroughly with a fork if you are blenderless. I did that for years and it works fine. Pour the batter into a shallow bowl. Heat the butter or oil over medium heat. Dip the bread in the batter, coating both sides. Allow excess batter to drip off. Clean the edges of the bread against the rim of the bowl a little bit. Put bread in pan. It should sizzle pleasantly when placed in the fat. If it doesn’t, get the pan a little hotter. Fry the slice, undisturbed, for about a minute, then check the underside. When nicely brown, turn and fry other side. Repeat with other slices, adding more fat to the pan as you go. I set the finished slices on a cooling rack set on a baking sheet in the oven, because putting them on a plate all stacked together encourages sogginess.

This time of year, I serve this with sliced strawberries tossed with a little sugar and orange juice, plus a dollop of yogurt. It’s also great with sliced banana and maple syrup, or orange slices, too. You could also use chocolate syrup on it, (after all, what’s better together than chocolate and bananas?) but I wouldn’t want to encourage bad food choices that and that really makes this into dessert instead of breakfast.

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