I've had a hankering for banana bread lately. Coincidentally, I was also offered a bunch of ripe, brown bananas from somebody who didn't have a hankering to make it. Seemed serendipitous to me.
I've never made a banana bread before, so I did a little bit of Google searching (thanks again, Google) and found a basic banana bread recipe over at Betty Crocker.
I trust Betty Crocker. They always deliver tasty cakes out of boxes, so I figured I'd give their banana bread recipe a shot.
I gathered the necessaries (pan, dish towel for cleaning up inevitable messes, ingredients). Want to know what the ingredients are?
- 1&1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened (I used butter. I always use butter.)
- 2 eggs
- 1&1/2 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (probably around 3 or 4 medium bananas)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (yes, will smell like a cow's udder when you open the bottle or carton)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2&1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired (yes, I desire.)
First things first (according to BC): "Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches."
I greased my 9x5x3 pan with some Crisco and one of those freakishly handy paper towels.
Then: (and I quote... see the quotes?) "Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into pans."
Oh, sounds easy. But pictures always make it look easier. I love taking pictures, so why don't I just show you how it looks up close and personal?
This is what your ripe bananas should look like. Brown. Gross. Inedible. But, believe it or not, there's latent banana bread inside there.
Mash those bad boys until they look like baby food. Banana baby food always reminds me of my mom, because she loves it, to the point that she used to share jars of it with me when I was a baby.
Now, following along with Betty:
1. "Mix sugar and butter in large bowl." Sure, Ms. Fancy-Pants Recipe! Consider that done.
2. "Stir in eggs until well blended." Two little sunnys going in the mix!
3. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. This is how my banana mash turned out.
Also, I was really excited to find Kate's Real Buttermilk, from a farm in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Even though Old Orchard Beach is hundreds of miles from the Valley, I'm proud to support Mainers any day! Eventually, I will make my own buttermilk or order it (more) locally from my buyers' club.
4. "Stir in flour, baking soda and salt until just moistened. Stir in nuts."
I had a bit of a problem when I realized that I hadn't bought chopped walnuts, but merely shelled. Not that much of an obstacle, considering I can easily chop them.
However, I did come up with the hare-brained idea to sandwich them in a folded-up dish towel and beat the heck out of them with a meat tenderizer. It worked really well! (And I was able to get out some frustration out without involving a large knife).
Add these little bits of walnut (or, as my friend Rachel calls them, "brains") to your batter.
Mix it like it's your last day on earth (what if it is? Whoa. Too heavy. I'll back away slowly from that subject.). Pour this glorious goop into your greased (only on the bottom) pan.
Throw that tiger in the oven! (I admit, I'm in a bit of "a mood" today. I'll go ahead and call it "silliness"). As tempted as you might be to sit in front of the oven to watch this bake, you might want to reconsider, as it takes at least an hour and fifteen minutes to fully bake.
Gingerly (and with the utmost respect) remove the banana bread from the oven. I baked it for an hour and fifteen minutes (according to the Betty Crocker instructions), but, having let it cool for two hours, I was disappointed to find out that a tiny swatch along the top was not fully cooked.
FAIL? Nope. The presentation of a slice suffered a bit, because I cut out the uncooked portion, but the taste was all there. Believe me, the toothpick I poked in to check it came out clean. Do not be deceived. I'd go ahead and let this cook an extra 10 minutes if you're afraid of making my mistake.
This hankering has officially been satiated! The banana bread was dense, heavy, and delicious. Walnuts are always a wonderful touch, but the ratio for nuts in bread was spot on in this recipe!
Enjoy! And let me know (via comments, so everyone can learn along with us) if you came up with any alterations that improve the recipe. I discovered that you should cook it longer than the recipe calls for. What did you discover?