Let’s talk about banana bread. It has been years since I thought about banana bread. One day, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I don’t remember what sparked my interest in banana bread. I looked through old cookbooks, perused the web. My daughter suggested I try Chrissy Teigen’s banana bread. It was delicious. Baked in a bundt pan. Crispy top. Deliciously moist from the package of pudding. Wonderful. I will share that recipe another time.
I wanted something closer to traditional banana bread, but not heavy like a brick. Cue Joanne Chang. She’s brilliant. She’s successful. She makes banana bread! Someday I will use that Flour gift card. I checked out her first cookbook from the library a gazillion times, without ever baking anything. I’m like that. More of a cookbook hoarder. This time was going to be different. I ordered it from a consortium library. Bought a bunch of bananas and waited for them to over ripen. I’m not a patient person.
The next step: actually read recipe. I looked over the ingredients. Simple, every day ingredients. Sour cream was a little different, but I know this helps with the crumb. Cinnamon? I’m in. Walnuts? Not so much. I don’t like nuts in baked goods. Walnuts taste bitter to me. I’m all set with ingredients.
I started to read the directions. What could make this bread different from the others?The ingredients were very similar. Not far into the recipe, the secret was revealed. It’s the process. You beat the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes. FIVE! The mixture is light and fluffy and has great volume. Genius. You fold in the dry ingredients. Brilliant. It’s so simple, but successful in producing a light, moist, delicious loaf of bread. Let’s get baking!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
3 very ripe bananas mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and
4 ounces of good milk chocolate finely chopped
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Butter a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan. I like to cut a strip of parchment paper, so it releases easily and in one piece. Turn over the pan, and cut the parchment to fit the bottom, before you grease the pan. Duh. Let the parchment over hang a little. If you have metal clips, you can clip them to the parchment and the pan, to avoid the parchment from turning into the baking bread. Or not. I’m not patient. The parchment paper helps me lift it out of the pan in one piece after cooling for about 30 minutes.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. You can tap it through a mesh strainer instead. I’ve made it without sifting and it was still scrumptious. Don’t fret.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes. If you use a hand mixer, beat it a little longer. I like the stand mixer, since I’m alway multitasking. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Another process that makes a difference. Don’t dump in the oil. It should take about one minute to pour the oil into the batter. Using this process, it incorporates into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you just beat into the batter. Add the bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Continue to mix on low speed just until it’s combined.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture just until combined. You don’t want any streaks of flour in the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 1 – 1 1/4 hours. You want the loaf to be golden brown on top. If the center springs back, it’s done. I sometimes use a toothpick. Old school, riiiiightttt? This bread fills up the pan, because of all the air in the batter. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. The pop it out of the pan to cool completely on the rack. The bread in the above picture could have used a couple of more minutes. It was still yummy and cooked through. It’s almost gone.
The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature. I prefer my quick breads to chill in the fridge. I think it enhances the flavor. It can be frozen for up to 2 weeks. Now that’s funny. No baked goods last two weeks in this house. Unless I hide them in the vegetable drawer.
Note: If you have over ripe bananas, but don’t have time to make banana bread, freeze the bananas. I mush them in a zip lock plastic bag and label it. One banana, two banana, three banana, four…….When you have time to bake, the bananas just need to be defrosted. Perfect.
Note 2: After you mix in the dry ingredients, stir in the chopped chocolate. Pour into prepared pan. Wait for the marriage of chocolate and banana!