Hearty Banana Bread

A few weeks ago, I kept seeing this recipe in my Facebook feed, billed as King Arthur Flour’s Recipe of the Year. That same week I had some very ripe bananas in our fruit basket, so I took it as a sign and gave it a try. I’m pleased to say that while I’ve baked many a loaf of banana bread in the past, I liked this recipe much better than my standard one.

The recipe uses both white and whole wheat flour for a heartier treat, and includes a simple yet brilliant sugar/cinnamon topping. The bread  has a tender texture and slices very easily without crumbling, a balance not easy to achieve. Mike and my co-workers proclaimed it delicious, so I’ll stick with this as my go-to banana bread recipe. Next time, I might toast the walnuts before adding them to the batter, or add some chocolate chips as well.

Ingredients

For the batter

  • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 5 medium-sized bananas)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

*I used the spoon-and-sweep method of measuring flour for this recipe. Just spoon your flour into your measuring cup, then sweep off the excess with a knife. 

For the topping

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together mashed bananas, vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until very well combined.

Mix the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts to the banana mixture until just moistened and no dry streaks remain; be careful not to over-mix. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon topping.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. I checked my bread at 45 minutes of baking time and tented foil over it to prevent over-browning.

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then loosen the sides with a spatula and turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil; store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

 

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Banana Bread

banana bread

 

 

 

 

 

In the 1930s, recipes for banana bread began to appear in American cookbooks. Some culinary historians cite the availability of baking soda and baking powder as the impetus for this treat, while others believe it came simply from the kitchen of an enterprising and thrifty gal who didn’t want her overripe and hard-earned bananas to go to waste. I’d wager that both are the truth, and being a thrifty baker myself, applaud the woman who mashed up her spotty bananas and whipped up the first heavenly-scented loaf of banana bread.

Banana bread is simple, and very easy to make. Being a quick bread, there is no yeast, kneading, or rising time involved; the whole process, from mixing bowl to table, takes about an hour. Banana bread can be served warm but many bakers, myself included, believe that it tastes better after a day or so, when the flavors have had time to settle.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • generous 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease an 8x4x2 loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine egg, mashed bananas, sugar, and vegetable oil.

Pour into flour mixture and stir until combined.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean; check the bread at about 40 minutes to make sure the top isn’t browning too quickly; if it is, make a tent of aluminum foil and cover the bread until it is through baking.

Cool completely in the plan.

 

Banana Pecan Chocolate Chip Bread

 

 

 

 

 

Some recipes are easy to embellish, and this recipe is one of those.  Take basic banana bread, add some nuts and chocolate chips, and you have a whole new treat.  I used pecans and milk chocolate chips, but you could certainly use walnuts and semi-sweet if you like.

I think one of the things that draws me to baking-other than the predictability of the outcome-is the possibility of creativity, and how there are endless ways to make a recipe more interesting.  Add flavoring to cake batter, and you change the cake.  Add nuts to brownie batter, and you change the brownie.  There’s something oddly liberating in that, in imagining the possibilities.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • generous 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease an 8x4x2 loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine egg, mashed bananas, sugar, and vegetable oil.

Pour into flour mixture and stir until combined.

Add pecans and chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool in pan or serve warm.