Sunday, April 29, 2012

Best Banana Bread

In keeping with my trend toward very versatile recipes, this banana bread is a very flexible recipe that allows you to customize it to your family's particular tastes. It calls for all-purpose flour but I sometimes use all whole wheat or half whole wheat. It calls for walnuts but I've used walnuts or pecans and I've also replaced half or all of the nuts with flax seed and gotten excellent results. It also calls for margarine but I refuse to even have the stuff in my house, considering it not to even be "real food", so I use butter. It also calls for buttermilk which I almost never have in the fridge so I use 1/3 of the amount in plain yogurt or sour cream and mix it in a cup with milk to make buttermilk. You can use a higher ratio of yogurt to milk if you like a little more tartness.


3/4C (1 1/2 sticks) margarine, softened to room temp.
1 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 C mashed ripe bananas (~3)
1 t vanilla
1 3/4 C unsifted flour
1 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1/2 C buttermilk (I use milk cause I never have buttermilk)
1 C chopped nuts (pecans, optional)

Preheat oven to 325 F

Grease bread pan. This recipe makes one 5x5 inch pan or two 4x7 1/2 inch pan or one 9x5 inch pan,or you can multiply the ingredients by 1.3 and do it in a 9x13 pan. I've had good luck baking it in a couple 13oz empty metal coffee cans. It makes a nice shape for wrapping up and giving as a gift. You will have to adjust your baking times accordingly.

The key to success with this recipe is to be sure that your bananas are ripe. They should be brown on the outside and squishy to the touch. When I have bananas that are ready in my fruit bowl but I don't have time to make the bread, I just throw the bananas in the freezer, skin and all, and when I have enough to do the recipe and the time to bake then I thaw them out. You can squish bananas in their skins if you do it carefully and then scrape them out. Saves on the mashing time. Also, on the boat where I don't have an electric mixer, I use a potato masher to mix this recipe. They work great for hand-mixed recipes like cookies and so forth that are thick.

After mashing your bananas in the bowl, add the softened butter. Mash it together and then add the rest of the liquid ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir quickly but completely. Over-mixing will produce a dense loaf that can be tough.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. As you can see here, I'm feeding a big group so I have used the 9x13 pan. It will bake for 45-50 minutes in my boat oven and since I know my oven is cooler than the indicated thermostat it will bake at 350° not 325°. You will need to experiment with your oven. Let the bread cool a bit before cutting. You can sprinkle powdered sugar on top if you're doing it in the cake pan. You can also frost it with whipped cream icing and use it like a cake. It keeps well, although there's rarely enough left to worry about it. You can also freeze it. It's great either warm or cold with cream cheese. Enjoy!

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