Ever-Evolving Banana Bread
December 11, 2007
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.
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.
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
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.