Tuesday, February 7, 2012

banana bread: re-visited

One of the dreamiest smells in the world is banana bread—baking in the oven. Another joy in life is eating this warm, aromatic bread right out of the oven. I've tried a lot of banana bread recipes over the years, and whenever I try a new one, in the back of my mind, I think about re-visiting this one. I remember how crispy the edges were, and how dense and moist the center was. I tried this again without any nuts, and used two ripe bananas from the counter, and ripe bananas from the freezer. (Remember how we learned from this Ultimate Banana Bread recipe that when you thaw them out, you get some awesome juices that add a lot of flavor?) So, the results are: I seriously LOVE this bread. The texture is seriously perfect. Even the next day, when most banana breads get sort of slimy on the edges, this still has crispiness, but still so... you know... moist on the inside. Also, I mentioned this before, but toasting day old banana bread before eating it is incredible.

Here is the recipe again:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas (two of them frozen and thawed)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for a good 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated; no need to overly blend. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Don't get nervous if the banana bread develops a crack down the center of the loaf; that's no mistake, it's typical. Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning. Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Note: The top of my bread was getting too brown, so I placed a piece of foil on top after about 45-50 minutes.

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