Wednesday, May 13, 2009

banana bread: fit for a monkey

There is a very delicious smell emanating from my oven right now, and it disturbs me greatly. I'm making banana bread. [shiver] I barely like bananas, and only when they are perfect (no green, no brown spots), and banana bread is not my thing. However, our bananas kept getting just a little too ripe, so one by one, I threw them in the freezer for a later use. Josh loves banana bread, and I think the kids will like it, too. Hell, if you warmed up cardboard and spread it with butter and honey, they'd probably eat it. Bread is just the butter-honey vehicle to them.

I didn't have a banana bread recipe, but I figured I couldn't go wrong with Epicurious, and the first search result received 4 forks, seemed straightforward, and had been reviewed by nearly 300 people. I didn't have creme fraiche, but for 2 tablespoons' worth, sour cream worked just fine. I would have subbed yogurt, but I happened to have sour cream left from dinner. I was surprised that for a quick bread, this seemed to require a fair amount of work - for example, beating the eggs and sugar for nearly 10 minutes - but none of it was hard, and if you're using a stand mixer, it's hard to complain about having to beat something for 10 minutes. This recipe makes two loaves, but I only had three bananas, so I halved it. Easy-peasy.

I'll let you know the verdict on taste tomorrow, but I will admit that not only does it smell fragrant and homey now, the batter actually tasted good. (Yeah, didn't want to be caught admitting that publicly.)
Banana Bread
3 1/4 cups (13 7/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes (yeah, mine were right out of the fridge)
2 1/3 cups (16 ounces) sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups coarsely mashed very ripe bananas (6 large)
1/4 cup crème fraîche (I substituted sour cream; plain or vanilla yogurt would also work)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/3 cups walnuts (4 ounces), toasted and chopped (I omitted these, which I think will be fine)
(You could probably also substitute, or add, mini chocolate chips. Josh is a purist, so I did not.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 (9- by 5- by 3-inch) metal loaf pans, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.
Sift together 3 1/4 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl.
Beat together eggs and sugar in bowl of electric mixer at medium-high speed until very thick and pale and mixture forms a ribbon when beater is lifted, about 10 minutes. (Mine started looking like this long before 10 minutes had elapsed. For good measure, I let it run about 7 minutes.) Reduce speed to low and add oil in a slow stream, mixing, then mix in bananas, crème fraîche, and vanilla. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in flour mixture and walnuts gently but thoroughly.
Divide batter between loaf pans, spreading evenly, and bake in middle of oven until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. A few comments suggested that the bread begins to brown early, so I tented mine really lightly with foil after about 45 minutes.
Cool loaves in pans on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack. Turn loaves right side up and cool completely.
*Thumbs up granted based on smell and estimated success, not on taste (yet). Actual results may vary.


Anonymous said...

The smell of bananas makes me want to barf, frankly.
You are a good mom.

Leah said...

I like bananas AND banana bread, so what I like in banana bread may not be what you like, but if this recipe is a dud, it is my humble opinion that the world's easiest and best banana bread is the one from Simply Recipes. One bowl, one spoon, one potato masher to speed things along.