banana-y banana bread
June 9, 2010 § 21 Comments
My stepfather is an incredible cook. I don’t know what he does, but whenever I’m visiting, the most amazing plates of food come out of that kitchen. What I find especially impressive, though, isn’t the exotic meals I’ve never tried before, but when he turns out a classic dish that is somehow better than every other version I’ve had. He makes a romaine salad that I can’t stop eating – I just eat more and more, and it’s only lettuce! A man who can make lettuce addictive is someone I want to learn to cook from.
To that end, I always pay close attention when he doles out the occasional cooking tip. Apparently the secret to the salad is fancy sherry vinegar, and his chile-rubbed salmon is so amazing because he grinds his own chile powder blend. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t yet actually tried making these things, since they don’t contain butter or sugar, but I’ve scrounged some baking wisdom as well. When I mentioned that I was making banana bread, I got not one but two rules for banana bread, which I will now follow like scripture:
1. You have to use really ripe bananas. Sort of alarmingly overripe. Really, they should be brown enough that you’re kind of embarrassed if your friends happen to come over and spot them in your fruit bowl, because you know then they’ll think you’re a slob who keeps rotting fruit lying around the kitchen. But once you explain that it’s for purposes of banana bread, all will be forgiven!
2. Add an extra banana to the recipe. I absolutely love this change, since it makes for a really banana-y, moist bread. If you prefer a cakier texture, though, then this might not be for you. Also, I’ve already added a banana to this recipe, so I suppose this rule no longer applies – although I’m curious to see how far it could be stretched…
Extra Banana Bread – adapted from The New Best Recipe
This makes an ultra-moist, banana-y loaf, crunching with toasted nuts. If you prefer a cakier texture, drop the bananas back down to three, but I’ll be sad!
2 cups (10 ounces) flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 very ripe bananas, mashed well
1/4 cup plain yogurt (optional, I may try leaving this out next time)
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
In a medium bowl, mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Fold in walnuts as carefully as possible. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with very few crumbs, about 55-70 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days).