Ever-Evolving Banana Bread

December 11, 2007

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My favorite quickbread, by far, is banana bread.  I’ve dabbled in pumpkin bread, zucchini bread and others, but my heart belongs to banana bread.  And I love nearly all of its permutations—studded with walnuts or dark chocolate chunks or unadorned; topped with streusel, a dusting of sanding sugar or simply glistening and cracked; light or dark; sliced thin or thick; spread with a pad of butter, a slather of peanut butter or nothing at all.

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And I think I have finally, finally (finally) found my favorite version.  It began with a recipe that I made so many times that I knew the recipe by heart and instinctually tossed the necessary ingredients into my shopping basket at the grocery store.  I even kept a constant source of bananas in the freezer (in my opinion, the only way to get the most scrumptiously banana-y flavor) to feed my love for this bread.

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But of course, I figured it could be even better.  I’ve toyed with the base recipe in countless ways—mainly by trying to “health it up” by experimenting with various amounts of whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose and by reducing the sugar by as much as two-thirds.  I’ve also amped up the flavor by adding vanilla extract and strong, spicy Vietnamese cinnamon—two additions that became permanent after their very first debut.

Last week, out of necessity rather than culinary brilliance, I had to make yet another change to the original recipe.  Out of sour cream, I had to substitute Greek yogurt.  Well, clearly the banana bread gods were smiling down on me.  This is the one.  At least, for now …

Ever-Evolving Banana Bread 

3/4 cup          sugar
1/4 cup           butter, softened to room temperature
2-3                             mashed ripe bananas (2 large or 3 medium-sized bananas)
1/4 cup           skim milk
1/4 cup           Greek yogurt, such as Fage 0%
1 tsp.               vanilla extract
2                      large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup               all-purpose flour
1 cup               whole wheat flour
1 tsp.               baking soda
1/2 tsp.          salt
1/2 tsp.          cinnamon                        
                        c
ooking spray
 

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease one 9-inch loaf pan or four mini loaf pans with the cooking spray. Using an electric mixer, combine the sugar and butter; scrape down the bowl.  Add banana, milk, yogurt, egg whites and vanilla; beat well. 

In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flours, soda, salt and cinnamon).  In several additions, add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-banana mixture.  Beat until blended.* 

Pour the batter into the four loaf pans (distributing evenly) or the one large loaf pan.  Bake for 40-45 minutes for the mini loaves or 60-70 minutes for the large loaf, or until a tester inserted in the center of the loaf/loaves comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto wire wracks to cool completely.  

*  I generally make four mini loaves and, at this point in the recipe, I add dark chocolate chunks to two of them.  Guess who eats the chocolate-laced loaves—Kevin or me?  

2 Responses to “Ever-Evolving Banana Bread”

  1. Polly Says:

    Perfectly evolved banana bread; so moist and not overly sugary. I see no reason to use any other recipe ever again!


  2. Polly: Yay! I’m so glad you liked it. As I type this, I have butter softening for a loaf of my own.


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