Thursday, February 23, 2012

National Banana Bread Day

Today is National Banana Bread Day, and to celebrate, I'm posting up my go-to banana bread recipe! I've turned to this recipe time and time again for many years now, and it never fails me. Perfect banana bread every time. Intense banana flavours. Not too sweet. Super moist. Great crumb. What else can you ask for in a stellar banana bread?

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I don't remember where I got the original recipe, as it has been so many years ago. I have made numerous changes over the years to adjust to my own tastes, and the result today is the recipe found below.

The key to an excellent banana bread is the ripeness of your bananas. You want these to be very, very ripe—to the point where the skin is an ugly brown-black and it feels squishy to the touch. You'll get the maximum banana flavour with these kinds of bananas. I often throw extra ripe bananas into my freezer for a rainy day, and take them out to defrost for banana bread when I'm ready to bake a loaf.

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I sometimes like to play with different flours, doing a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat for a heartier loaf. Add chopped walnuts to keep it healthy, or replace the nuts with chocolate for a more indulgent loaf.

My favourite part is cutting a still-warm slice and slathering it with butter. Sooo good. However, it's just as good using leftover banana bread to make french toast for brunch the next day!

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The Only Banana Bread Recipe You'll Ever Need
Makes one 9x5 loaf

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup crushed walnuts, semisweet chocolate chips, or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper and grease the bottom and sides of the pan.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream sugar and butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the bananas and vanilla extract. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until incorporated. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the nuts or chocolate, if using.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the centre of the bread comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing the bread to a rack to cool completely.


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