Monday, October 15, 2012

How to Make Easy Moist Banana Bread

I love fall. It's that time of the year you finally start feel like baking again. There is nothing more homey than the smell of something baking in the oven when you walk through the door on a crisp day.  I like those days where there is a chill in the air but it's still a little too warm to turn on the furnace for the first time...perfect baking weather!

A couple of weeks ago HyVee had bananas on sale for 29 cents a pound.  I bought a few too many so decided it was the perfect time to make a little banana bread. Banana bread can either be the most moist wonderful concoction in the world or the devil's dry dust. It's an art. I have spent most of my life working on finding the perfect banana bread recipe.

Here's a basic recipe I have played with over the years.  This recipe makes two loaves. To begin, cream 2 sticks butter (softened) with 2 cups sugar. Do not be fooled by this picture of my giant 4 cup measuring cup. It really is two cups sugar and 2 sticks butter or what I like to call a perfect start.

Now add four eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Blend together.

Here's the secret to really good banana bread: ripe bananas. I mean pungent "black" bananas. Some people might consider throwing these bananas away just when they have achieved the perfect state of ripeness for banana bread. My Grandpa would only eat a banana once it was about the consistency of mush.

But what if you have over ripe bananas and aren't in the mood to bake?  That's easy. Just peel the bananas and place in a plastic bag. Freeze. Take out another day, thaw and bake away. You will not be able to tell a difference.

Add 4-6 bananas and blend.

Most recipes tell you to mix all your dry ingredients together and then gradually mix into cream mixture. I'll be honest, I usually just throw in a half teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons baking soda. Then I gradually add 3 cups of flour, about a cup at a time until blended. But hey, if you want to do it right, mix all three dry ingredients first, then add flour mixture slowly, though I have a feeling it won't make a lot of difference.

The second secret to great banana bread is to not over work the batter. Mixing too long will make the bread "tough".

Just mix until all ingredients are combined. It will be about the consistency of pudding.
Preheat your oven. I usually bake my banana bread at about 325 degrees. Be sure and grease your loaf pans.
The real challenge is how long to bake the bread. Many recipes will say 35-45 minutes. Who are they kidding? Mine usually takes at least an hour and often longer. I think every batch is different. The consistency of the bananas will likely change the baking time. So set your timer for about 50 minutes and start checking every 10 minutes after that. Of course, it is done when a knife stuck into the bread comes out smoothly. Anything else you add to this batter, such as nuts, will also likely affect the cooking time. Now is not the time to indulge your ADHD tendencies. You have to focus and check the bread. Don't go off and forget it.

If you stay focused, you should be rewarded with a perfect loaf of banana bread. Wait a few minutes for it to cool before slicing.
The best thing about making your own banana bread is you can make the slices as large as you want. As demonstrated in this picture, my husband seems to think a third of a loaf is a good portion size. Yummers!

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