Sunday, October 27, 2013

B is for Banana Bread

Over the last month, I have gone back to working normal, 40 hour weeks.
I got a new pair of glasses AND a new pair of shoes.

I have had the great fortune of watching one of my best friends tie the knot (I made her cry with my toast), and conspiring with my husband's cousin (and the best man at our wedding), who finally popped the question to his girlfriend of four years.  We've been keeping the secret (and holding her engagement ring at our house!) all summer and I'm so happy that it's official and I can take my secret Pinterest board public, and I'm looking forward to their big day!

Now, let's talk about a joyful kitchen. 
A clean one, certainly, if you take pride in a cleaning job well done.
(I just feel like a domestic goddess when I have a clean kitchen and something yummy to eat.)
A messy one, because that project baking away in the oven is totally going to be delicious.
A warm room, full of good people, good food, and if you're lucky, good wine.
A simple recipe that never lets you down.
Quick breads - no kowtowing to yeast here!  (water too hot, water too cold, blah, blah blah - I'm scared of working with yeast, can you tell?)

Banana bread.  I love it so much. 
I like to make it on the weekends and we eat it for Sunday breakfast... Obviously throughout the week too.  It takes us more than one breakfast to eat an entire loaf of bread.  It takes me back to childhood, and reminds me of this Alpha-Bakery cookbook I had when I was a kid.

Did you have an Alpha-Bakery cookbook?  I have no idea what happened to mine, but I can remember being obsessed with it.  Especially 'E is for Elephant Ears', although I never did make them.  I can also remember thinking it made a spectacular gift for me to color the edges of some 3x5 index cards and copy down recipes from this book.  I, of course, did not give the book proper credit.  Those recipes were 100% from the kitchen of Maggie, thank you very much. 

And so, banana bread.
When I grocery shop, I buy at least one more banana than we think we'll eat that week.  And then, when it's left over, leave it on the counter.  For days.  And days.  And just when you think it's maybe been too many days, leave it for one more.  We want the 'ripest' banana you've ever laid eyes on.  You don't even want to know that bananas are yellow when you look at these bananas.

Yeah, it sounds gross, but I promise that it will be okay.  And the more ripe your bananas are, the more banana flavor and cake like texture your finished bread will have.

Once you reach banana perfection, peel it and throw it in a zip top freezer bag.  Repeat until you have 4 or 5 bananas (depending on size), but you'll want about one and one-half cups per loaf of bread.  Alternately, buy all these bananas at one time, you know, if you just can't wait.  Keep in mind that you'll still have to wait - you know, for the bananas.

Banana Bread

Printable Recipe

You'll Need...
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (4-5 depending on size)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

First things first, preheat the oven to 350° and spray a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and set aside.

Add bananas to a large measuring cup and mash with the back of a fork.  Add mashed bananas to a medium mixing bowl and combine with eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.

Now, we're using the muffin method here (learn about it here from Good Eats), and that means that we'll combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients separately then, all at once, add the wet to the dry and gently stir the mixture until it just comes together.  It's going to be lumpy, and that's okay. 

If desired, fold in the chopped walnuts.  Next, spoon the batter into your prepared loaf pan.

Bake at 350° for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean.  (You may need to cover the edges with tinfoil if it looks like it's getting too brown.)

Remove from the oven and cool, in the pan on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the pan and cool completely on rack.  Now for the hardest part, wrap the loaf in tinfoil and store overnight before slicing.  I promise it's worth it!  Make it on Saturday evening, and dream sweet dreams of Sunday breakfast all night!

Makes 1 loaf (16 slices).

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 14th Edition.

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