Friday, June 8, 2007

Bananas for Bread

What's a girl to do? I'd just bought a large bunch of bananas, set them on the counter to induce my children to beg and whine piteously for them, rather than for cookies, and then a week of freakishly warm weather hit. 80 degrees in May? Pleasant, but it reduced my bright, yellow bananas to a mound of ominously spotted, squishy fruit. so, of course, I made banana bread.

Banana bread is all I know to do with left-over bananas. Other clever cooks whip up cakes, cookies, or some intimidating pastry. I make banana bread. I would hang my head in shame if my banana bread weren't so tasty. I love it. It's moist, tender, with a tasty crust and loaded with nuts. I found out my neighbors from the middle East love it too, so generally when I make it, I'll take a loaf over to them. I found out, not too long ago, that they think it's the only kind of bread l I know how to make. Oops, I guess I need to broaden my kitchen offerings to them.

I've tweaked this recipe a lot over the years and it's a little different every time I make it. I'll give it to you as I made it this time, but know that you can make a single loaf, or four loaves with it and add or subtract eggs based on how much banana mush you have. One thing I did differently this time was change out the shortening for butter and it was a change for the better. Good texture and better flavor.

Back when I was hung up on fats I replaced half the fat with yogurt. I left it that way because I like the moistness it imparts to the bread. If you're worried about fats, read this fascinating article. It made me feel better about all the butter I use in baking.

Better Banana Bread - makes two loaves

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Have all ingredients at room temperature.

Sift together:
3-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour*
1-1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt

Blend until creamy:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1-1/3 cups sugar
1-1/2 tsp chopped lemon zest

Beat in:
3 beaten eggs
2 cups mushed, ripe bananas

Add the sifted ingredients in about 3 parts to the sugar mixture. Beat the batter after each addition until smooth.

Fold in:
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (toast them for an extra flavor punch)

Place batter in 2 greased loaf pans (I use 9x5) and bake about 1 hour, or until a cake tester in the center comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack and try to wait for it to cool before slicing. But if you do, you'll miss out on the butter melting into your slice. Oh, I'm drooling. I'd better go cut myself another piece right now!

* You can substitute up to 1/2 cup of the flour with wheat germ for extra nutrition.


Anh said...

I'm glad you substitute shortening for butter. Much better flavour there! I love butter. I know eating too much of it is bad, but I just can't resist.

Thanks for sharing a lovely banana bread recipe. :D

SteamyKitchen said...

2 really really ripe bananas sitting on the counter, begging to be made into better banana bread! Do you think 2 bananas = 2 cups?

Patricia Scarpin said...

Your banana bread looks delicious, Lynn - such a different texture!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Anh - yes, butter is hard to resist. So is banana bread.

Jaden - Thanks for the comment. I doubt 2 bananas equals 2 cups, but you can easily halve the recipe and it'll be fine. The original recipe I play around with calls for 1 to 1-1/4 cups mushed bananas and 1 to 2 eggs. If I'm shy on the bananas, I add extra eggs, and if there's surplus bananas, I take out an egg.

Patricia - Thanks!

Kelly-Jane said...

Your banana bread looks yummy. I make banana bread too and an oven baked banana dish, that I haven't made for ages come to think of it!

Anonymous said...

I make lots of banana bread, also. I like to substitute some of the white flour with wheat. I think it gives it a better taste and added nutrients.

Another great use for ripe bananas is in smoothies. Freeze them and throw them into a blender with other frozen fruit and some milk, buttermilk, yogurt, or some combination. The bananas make it sweet enough you don't have to add sugar, and depending on what type of liquid you add, you have a virtually fat free milk shake.