Banana Bread

Can’t you just smell it? I can.

As it sneaks out of the oven, it wraps me in a blurry, fuzzy blanket of memories of home, family and warm, melting butter.

Banana bread.

I have never met someone who doesn’t mmmmmm or oooohhhh when I bring banana bread over. I think it is one of the homiest things you can make. It unfailingly makes people reminisce about their mom, their grandma, their aunt or their favorite neighbor growing up. And the conversation usually ends with: “My – enter favorite family member here – made the best banana bread.”

And that is just something no one can argue about. Because it may not have been the best banana bread. But usually the person making the banana bread was the best and the bread was an extension of them.

When the bananas in my fruit bowl start to turn brown they call to me. “Make banana bread”, they say. And it is impossible to ignore.

While seemingly simple, banana is a tough flavor to work with. When you add any kind of heat or other flavor, the banana is often lost. 

Banana bread is also easily dry. Since oven temperatures range as different as the clouds in the sky, you would do well to check it a few minutes before the timer is done to make sure you don’t overcook it. This recipe also calls for yogurt, which insures additional moisture and a nice little tang.

My mother taught me almost everything I know about the kitchen. From where to house my spices and how to butter a tin, I inherited most of my baking habits from her. With that being said, my affinity to add nuts in most breads and cookies comes from her.

I learned early on that pecans are the wonder of the nut world. Now, thanks to her, I can not make banana bread without chopped pecans. But since those additions are a matter or taste and preference I won’t tell you you have to use them. Although, my mom does make the best banana bread…

Especially with pecans, and toasted with a generous slab of melting butter.

Banana Bread

Makes one loaf

2  cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 1/4 cup toasted nuts (pecans and walnuts are preferred)

3 very ripe bananas, soft and brown, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/4 cup of plain yogurt

2 large eggs beaten lightly 

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Bread

  1. With the oven rack adjusted to the lower middle position, heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease bottom only of regular loaf pan and set aside. Using non-stick? Makes sure to grease the bottom and the sides ! This will help the bread to climb and rise higher!
  3. Combine first five ingredients together in large bowl; set aside.
  4. Mix mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  5. Lightly fold banana mixture into dry ingredients with rubber spatula until just combined and batter looks thick and chunky.
  6. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan; bake until loaf is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
  7. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen: The Best Banana Bread

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