Thursday, January 27, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

My winning banana bread

So I'm a bit delayed.

I will have you know that I did not delay the Bake-Off results because I was licking my wounds.  In fact, I rocked it (like you suspected any different).  After travelling, catching up on work and never having my recipes and my photos in the same place, I just lost track of time.  But here I am and I've got yummies.

The Banana Bread round of the Bake-Off was actually round 3, but I decided to start here.  It was a decisive victory in my favor, but that's not to say Amy's bread was bad.  My recipe, from a free set of recipe cards titled "Grandma's Kitchen: Treasured Family Recipes" is a standard Banana Bread recipe, including nuts and lots of flavor.  I added the leftover streusel topping from the Strawberry Sour Cream Muffins, for little extra texture and interest.  The recipe calls for heavy cream, but I use light and never noticed a difference.  I also add cinnamon.  The recipe calls for walnuts, but I've also used pecans.  If you like a soft banana bread with lots of banana flavor, this is the one.  My friend Keith begs for it--to the point he now gets it for Christmas. 

Amy's bread

Amy's bread, while delicious, just wasn't what I would classify as banana bread.  I would call it a breakfast bread to start, but I've been trying to come up with a better name for her.  It's a very healthy recipe, with flax seed, bran, zucchini, dried cranberries and of course, banana.  The bread is moist and delicious, but the other flavors meld with the banana in such a way, that it no longer fits the category.  You find yourself thinking, "this is a yummy bread, I even think I taste bananas in there."  I'll certainly get the recipe from her and share, but bottom line: I win.

Banana Nut Bread


5 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup light cream
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add sugars and beat well.  Scrape sides of bowl and add egg, egg whites, and vanilla.  Beat until well blended, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.  Add mashed banana and beat on high speed for 30 seconds.

I collect ripe bananas from our kitchen and put them in paper bag and then in the freezer until I have enough to make a few loaves of banana bread.  When I'm ready to use them, I put them in the microwave, peel and all, for 30 seconds.  Then I peel them into a bowl and mash them up a little bit (they are pretty much mashed after the microwave, but I mix in the liquid a little bit).  I haven't wasted an overripe banana in years.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture alternately with cream, ending with the flour mixture.  Add walnuts to batter and mix well.

Pour batter evenly into prepared loaf pan. 

At this point, you can sprinkle more nuts on top or some sort of streusel topping, or just let it be. 

Bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes.  I usually test the bread at the one hour mark, and then keep an eye on it.  The top of the loaf will crust and crack well before it's fully cooked on the inside, so don't be fooled.

Cool bread in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

I use this same recipe for mini loaves, baking them a half dozen at a time for 20-25 minutes.  And for muffins, baking them for 15-18 minutes.

Makes 1 loaf, 6 mini loaves, or 18 muffins.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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