Banana Bread

Got a couple of bananas on your counter that are looking a little past their prime? Here's an inexpensive and laughably easy quickbread recipe that you can pop into the oven in under 20 minutes.

This bread is simply delicious: it's sweet but not too sweet, it's filling yet not too filling, and it goes perfectly with breakfast, lunch, snacktime, dinner or dessert. Enjoy!

Banana Bread
Inspired by, and modified from, Better Homes and Gardens

1 cup all-purpose white flour, unsifted
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 medium bananas, mashed
1/3 cup butter
2 Tablespoons milk

2 eggs
Another 3/4 cup white flour, unsifted

1) Combine 1 cup of the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl (Note: be sure to preheat your oven to 350F, or 175C before you begin combining ingredients).

2) Add bananas, butter and milk, and combine with a hand mixer on low speed. Once fully combined, beat at high speed for 1-2 minutes.

3) Add eggs and remaining 3/4 cup flour and use your hand mixer to blend fully.

4) Pour batter into a well-greased 9-inch loaf pan and bake at 350F (175C) for 55 minutes. Test for doneness during the last 5-10 minutes by sticking a fork or toothpick into the top center of the bread (if it comes out clean, your bread is done).

5) Cool for 5 minutes and then remove from pan. Then cool on a platter or wire rack for another 20-30 minutes until just warm. Slice and serve. To store, wrap loosely in plastic wrap or a clean plastic bag.

Recipe notes:
1) Optional modifications: I'm not a fan of nuts in my banana bread, but you can feel free to add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of chopped nuts to the batter if you like. Gently stir in the nuts after you've finished mixing the batter. I'd recommend using a mild nut that won't overwhelm the bread--good options would be chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans.

Also, here's an idea to garnish/decorate your banana bread: after you've put the batter in the greased loaf pan, place 3-4 unbroken pecan halves, walnut halves or almonds along the top of the loaf. Gently push them partway into the batter. They'll brown nicely in the oven and give the bread an artistic look.

2) A quick note for beginning cooks: you'll need two pieces of gear to make this recipe: First, a 9-inch loaf pan. These can be easily found online at Amazon, or at any department store for around $10. Second, you'll need a basic electric hand mixer, another fundamental kitchen item you can buy quite cheaply (a good one will run you less than $25). You'll get decades of use out of both items.

3) If you find yourself with a few aging bananas but you don't have time to make banana bread today, just toss the bananas in the freezer until you need them. The outer peels will turn a revolting dark brown color, but don't worry--the banana inside only needs to be thawed out and it will be perfect for your bread-making purposes.

4) A surprising bonus use for frozen bananas: they are perfect for icing your knees after a run. Sit with your legs up and place a frozen banana on top of each leg, just below the kneecap. It's a great preventative treatment for patellar tendonitis (runner's knee). Yes, I'm totally serious.

5) Make sure you don't confuse baking soda with baking powder and put in the wrong amounts of each. Baking powder has much more leavening power than baking soda--if you leave it out or put in too little, your bread will come out looking more like a pancake than a loaf.

6) Which reminds me of a time when I made a baking power/baking soda error as a kid. I was making a batch of cookies under my Mom's partial supervision, and I flaked and used baking powder instead of baking soda. The cookies came out nearly 4 inches tall! At least now I can laugh about it. At the time (I was seven or eight years old) I probably cried.

Related Posts:
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How To Make the Best Cornbread. Ever.
The Great Muffin Blogroll: 12 Great Muffin Recipes You'll Love to Bake
Blueberry Coffee Cake: Nostalgia Foods
Seven Rules To Ensure Mistake-Free Cooking
How To Modify a Recipe: The Six Rules
Seven Ways to Get Faster at Cooking

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MCM Voices said...

Dan, keeping up with bananas at our house requires vigilance - both in making sure there are always bananas of acceptable ripeness and then dealing with the past-prime ones if people aren't keeping up on consumption. So banana bread makes a frequent appearance. I'm partial to a bit of grated lemon rind in mine, as well as chocolate chips :) No nuts though.

There are times when I simply can't keep up and a banana eludes me and becomes unusable. Lobbing bananas over the fence into the woods is more fun than you might think.

Emily said...

Dan, make it extra-special. Butter loaf pan, then coat it with cinnamon sugar (like you would flour a cake pan). Pour in batter, sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top. It's wonderful with that not-so-sweet banana bread. Also, if you're feeling a tiny bit exotic, use Penzeys cake spice instead of cinnamon in the sugar. Gives it a little extra sumin-sumin!

Emily said...

Oh! And for leftover banana bread, slice, spread with pb, fold in half, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze. We call these "church sandwiches" - pull one from the freezer, leave in the car during Sunday service, and it's thawed and ready for a snack for kid. :)

Mary said...

Daniel, most of us have bananas that look less than appealing on our kitchen counters. Your recipe is a great way to use them up. This is my first visit to your blog, but now that I've found you I'll be back. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Daniel said...

These are some excellent variation/modification ideas. Thanks for sharing.

MCM, how could I not think of chocolate chips? Spectacular. And the lemon zest idea is intriguing.

Emily, I love your ideas, thank you! And thanks for the the chuckle from your "church sandwiches."

Mary, thank you for stopping by. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments on future posts here!


Joanne said...

I'm a firm believer in the idea that everyone should have a good banana bread recipe. This one looks awesome!

Cynthia said...

Blueberries are quite tasty in banana bread. I will have to try this recipe after the weather cools done. June to September, I do not turn my oven on.

Kitty Kaufman said...

I said it to Amy McCoy
and I'll say it again:

Historical note: Years ago when Tupperware parties were in fashion I think in the 70s, people started trotting out zucchini bread and banana bread.

Mostly this was done at the time you were expecting chocolate layer cake or fruit pie with whipped cream.

This led to the carrot cake explosion which carried over into the 80s. ( Not my eighties.) Carrot cake was hailed even more than zucchini bread and banana bread. Sometimes it was brought out in a Tupperware container.

If there is enough sugar in carrot cake and the icing is made with cream cheese and sugar, you can nearly convince yourself you're having a real dessert. Still, it is a letdown - carrots and zucchini. Who was it that thought serving vegetables in cake form is dessert? Whether it's lunch or dinner, if I eat all my vegetables I don't want more vegetables for dessert. It doesn't matter whether you hide them in cake, bread or ice cream format. Enough is enough. What I want is chocolate.

You can make me a sandwich on banana bread if you must, but kindly fill it with a thin layer of cream cheese icing and a spoon or two of smooth peanut butter.

The Calico Cat said...

A year late (but you did recycle the post)

too much baking soda - the opposite error in your example - tastes AWFUL, as in toss the whole darn loaf awful. Ask me how I know...

BTW I recently had strawberry banana bread - it was o.k.

Daniel said...

Great point. The thing about baking soda is that it actually has a pretty strong (and salty) taste. Add too much of it and yes, you will screw up the taste of a recipe.

Thanks for the thoughts.