Banana bread is one of those things like chocolate chip cookies and pot roast. Everyone thinks theirs (or their mother's or their grandmother's) is the best. I don't exactly have one banana bread recipe, I'm always trying different kinds, some with nuts, some with chocolate, some made with yogurt or sour cream, some with butter or oil. But from all of my experiments, I can tell you that there is one thing you can do, in any recipe, to make it better. It has to do with very ripe bananas.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I know, I know, of course you use ripe bananas. In many ways, the entire purpose of banana bread to prevent wasting fruit that is past its prime. But the way to get the best possible banana bread is to use really ripe bananas. I don't want to say rotten, because that would be gross, but I suppose in a way that's what I actually mean. I normally allow my bananas to ripen for 10 days before I deem them ready. They're not ready when they have only a few brown spots speckled along the yellow peel. They're not ready until they have reached a deep shade of midnight and the odor of banana is so strong you can smell it without peeling at all. When you do finally peel them, the banana itself should be a slimy, sticky, pungent mess. Of course, there is a fine line here between just right and too much, but I'm telling you that if you want your bananas to develop maximum flavor, and to add moistness rather than sap it, you must wait until they themselves are pungent and, well, goopy.
I would have taken pictures of what I mean, I probably should have, but I didn't want to display rotting food on my blog. And anyway, I'm still giving you a time frame. Just try. Try buying 4 bananas and leaving them on your counter for 10 days. Just see what happens and the level of "maturation" I'm talking about. I promise it will take your banana bread to the next level.
The recipe I used this time comes from The Foster's Market Cookbook and was originally designed to produce 2 loaves. I only wanted one, so I cut everything in half. Here's the recipe as I made it, yields 1 loaf.
Granny Foster's Banana-Walnut Bread
2 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (which I forgot to buy again!! I used cinnamon instead)
To be creamed together:
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 very ripe bananas, crushed
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
Oven preheated to 350, grease a 9x5 loaf pan
Combine the dry ingredients and stir.
Cream together the butter and sugar until blended, add the beaten egg slowly while you continue to beat and finally add the bananas and vanilla and stir to combine.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring only enough to combine. Be careful not to overmix or your bread with be tough. Fold in the walnuts.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for between 1 hour and 1:15 until it passes the toothpick test and the bread is brown and a bit cracked on top.
Let the bread rest for 10-15 minutes before taking it out of the pan.