Sunday, August 18, 2013

Banana bread


I hate bananas. However, they frequently make their way into the home, as Mr Leaven enjoys them - jury is still out on E, who eats banana chips from TJ's but usually declines the slimy, stinky fresh slices offered to him. That's good genes, is what that is. 

I think Mr Leaven's favorite thing about bananas is their ability to be converted into banana bread. I, loving wife that I am, have made quite a few loaves, always near the sink so that I can wash my hands of banana goo as necessary. The problem with banana bread, as even a banana-hater knows, is that it's not easy to bake through without drying/burning the edges, and there's usually a sunken, raw component in the middle. 

Not so with the recipe I tried yesterday from my Gourmet cookbook. It's light and moist and bakes evenly. I haven't any clue why, though I do think the batter is more liquid than other recipes. There's also less fat - bonus #1! - since it uses buttermilk. Bonus #2? They don't recommend mashing the bananas first, so less exposure to the icky stuff. Just peel those overripe suckers and dump them in the mixing bowl. 

I managed to do most of the prep while holding a very needy 1-year-old and would call the recipe just as simple and un-fussy as any of the quick bread recipes around, even though it's from Gourmet.

Banana nut bread

2 1/2 c sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (this is Gourmet, after all)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c sugar
2 large eggs
3 very ripe medium bananas
2/3 c well-shaken buttermilk
1 c walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F. Butter loaf pan, line with waxed paper or parchment, and butter paper. 

Stir together dry ingredients (first 6) in a medium bowl. 

In a mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar on high until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, beating until combined, then beat in bananas until combined (mixture will look curdled). Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing just until batter is smooth. Stir in nuts. 

Scrape batter into loaf pan and bake until a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into center of bread comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hour. Cool bread in pan on a rack for 2 minutes. Invert bread onto rack and remove paper, then invert again and cool completely. 

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