Post #510 Simple Simple Simple Banana Bread

October 7, 2016 at 1:28 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #510 Simple Simple Simple Banana Bread

We’ve got guests coming over today who are staying through the weekend.  I haven’t seen these people for several decades.  We only managed to reconnect on FB just about a year ago.  We discovered we’d lived in the same city (Tucson) for two years, but didn’t know it until after Partner/Spouse and I had left.  It’s all about timing.  So, I wanted to have something freshly made for when they arrive.  I had a load of options as anyone can guess, but I also had three large bananas going spotty left from the FiL’s visit.  So it really was a no brainer.  It was going to be banana bread.  Since I was also doing a bunch of other things, it had to be a simple but elegant banana bread.

Banana bread is one of what are called “quick bread”.  Quick bread doesn’t use yeast to get its rise; it uses chemical agents like baking soda and baking powder.  You don’t have to wait hours for the yeast to work so they are “quicker” than regular breads.  They tend to be denser, more flavorful, and heartier.  Banana bread is probably the best known, with zucchini bread a close second.

My all-time favorite, tried and true recipe is below.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/3 cups overripe bananas
  • nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, etc. optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
 And, as is typical for me, when I started the recipe, things didn’t go as they should.
First, my brown sugar was not exactly solid, but not exactly soft either.  It was malleable in the way old Play Dough is.  I used it anyway, then started cursing.  It didn’t want to incorporate with the butter very well and I was using my hand mixer to not only cream the sugar and butter together, but to mash the lumps of sugar down so they could actually be creamed into the butter.  Mashing just resulted in smaller lumps.  Then I remembered a trick my mom taught me.
KITCHEN HACK #1:  Use a few drops of very hot water to melt the sugar.  Being the uninspired cook she was, mom seldom had brown sugar in any form other than the half full box with the paper wrapper opened at the top resulting in a brown sugar brick.  She would break off as much as she thought she needed, crush it into a bowl, then add a few drops of hot water from the tap.  It would soften enough to be usable.
I added a very small amount, less than a quarter teaspoon, of very hot water to my not-creaming butter and sugar mix.  Almost like magic, the mixture turned into a beautiful creamy mess.  I was reminded how years ago the original Toll House Cookie recipe called for an optional teaspoon of water to be added at the creaming stage.  Now I knew why.
KITCHEN HACK #2:  In this recipe, it calls for combing the dry ingredients.  In many other recipes, they use the word “sifting” to combine all the dry ingredients.  The easiest way to do this is to put all the dry ingredients in a large zip lock bag with some air and seal it tight.  Shake it around for a few seconds, and pour into a bowl.  The ingredients are combined, and any flour lumps will be gone.
It came time to add my mashed bananas to the wet ingredient process.  I learned a little trick a long time ago when I didn’t feel like mashing the bananas.
KITCHEN HACK #3:  I just broke them into smallish lumps with my hands into the mix and let my hand mixer do the rest.  It results in most of the banana being liquefied, but also leaves a fair amount of small banana lumps which are wonderful in anything being baked with bananas.
The final step is to incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  This is best done with a rubber spatula and the one I use is shaped roughly like a scoop.  You move the spatula into the dry ingredients using the side of the bowl as a guide and lift the dry ingredient up through the wet and gently deposit them on top.  Move the bowl a quarter turn and do the same.  You’re trying to incorporate air into the mix and you don’t want to over mix.  Just at the point where you can no longer see white flour lumps, add any nuts, fruits, or whatever else you have and mix two or three more times just to distribute them thoroughly.
Then just follow the directions.  Here’s how mine turned out:
It’s still cooling off but I can’t wait to cut into it.

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