Banana Bread has stood the test of time. You can tell a favorite recipe by how
often it is used, and this recipe is one I return to again and again. In fact, I
often buy bananas expressly for making this bread, impatiently waiting for their
skins to turn brown and their flesh to become soft and sweet. Banana bread starts
thick sweet batter that is full of mashed bananas, ground cinnamon and chopped nuts.
It is, as the name "Quick" Bread implies, quick to make. The dry
ingredients are mixed together in one bowl, the wet ingredients are mixed
together in another bowl. The two are combined and you are done. When you pull
this banana bread from the oven the golden brown crust is delightfully crisp and
although the crust softens once the bread is covered and stored, its wonderful
moist texture and sweet flavor remain intact.
There are many types
of bananas, but for this recipe we're using the long and curved bright yellow
variety sold in bunches. Arriving at our shores over a hundred years
ago, this tropical dessert fruit has many virtues; it is available year round,
reasonably priced, of consistent quality, easy to peel, and most importantly, we
know by the color of its skin how firm its flesh will be and how sweet it will
taste. When you think about it, not many fruits can tell us so much just
by looking at them. Bananas are picked while still green which means
its flesh will be hard with little flavor. As time passes and the banana
ripens its skin begins to turn yellow and with that its flesh softens and its flavor
sweetens. Further aging causes the skin to brown and its flesh to become
very soft and sweet. At this stage some people throw these bananas in the
garbage thinking they have gone bad, not realizing how delicious they will be
when mashed and baked in a bread or cake.
If you are like me almost
every time I buy bananas a few (not enough though to make this Banana Bread) will turn brown before I get around to eating
them. Instead of throwing them away, simply place them into a plastic bag
and freeze until you have enough for baking. You
can also peel and mash them, stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice
for each banana, and freeze in an airtight container or bag. They will
keep about six months in the freezer.
Banana Bread Recipe: Preheat oven to 350
degrees F (180 degrees C) and place oven rack to middle position. Butter (or spray with a non stick vegetable
spray) the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Line
the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper.
In a large bowl
whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground
cinnamon. Stir in the chopped nuts.
In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, beaten eggs,
melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly
the wet ingredients (banana mixture) into the dry ingredients just until
combined and the batter is thick and chunky. (The important thing is not to over
mix the batter. You do not want it smooth. Over mixing the batter will yield
tough, rubbery bread.) Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top with
the back of a spoon. Bake until bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center
comes out clean, about 60 to 70
minutes. Place on
a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. Serve warm or at room
temperature. This bread can be frozen.
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