Breaking (Banana) Bread
Thanks to a What’s Cooking reader from Reston, Va., my house is perfumed with a freshly baked banana bread.
“My mom sent me home from Christmas with some past-their-prime bananas. Since they've been sitting on my counter for a week, they're now REALLY past their prime, which means I'm making banana bread tonight," Reston wrote. Alas, there was a glitch.
“All the recipes I'm finding online have complaints in the comments (I know, there are ALWAYS complaints), so I'm hoping you or another chatter has a fantastic recipe up a virtual sleeve.”
Right after this week’s chat, I dug through my files for a very trusty banana recipe that I photocopied at my hometown library from an old edition of “The New York Times Cookbook” by the late Craig Claiborne. For more than 20 years, I’ve been toting this batter-stained recipe, a reminder of my college-break baking forays, before cooking school was even on my radar. When I was broke in my 20s, it was an inexpensive treat for both breakfast and mid-afternoon coffee breaks. And it has always given me moist, banana-y results, neither too cakey nor too sweet.
Sure enough, 14 or so years later, this banana bread is just as I remember, yielding a buttery brown crust that develops a luscious crown (this is why I recommend butter over non-dairy Earth Balance spread in this case). On this gloomy, rain-filled day, it’s like catching up with an old friend. Now who wants a cup of tea?
John Harper’s Banana Nut Bread
Adapted from "The New York Times Cookbook" by Craig Claiborne
With KOD updates
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into dice (I reduced amounts to ¾ stick)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (KOD add-on)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 ripe bananas
½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch rectangular loaf pan.
Using a mixer or food processor, cream butter and sugar until light yellow in color and kind of fluffy. Add egg and lemon juice and mix until combined. Incorporate vanilla, if using.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Fold wet ingredients into dry, using a rubber spatula. Don’t worry if it looks dry, and don’t overmix it in fear. Mash bananas in a separate bowl, and fold into batter, until well integrated. Add nuts, if using.
Pour batter into pan and bake until a skewer inserted in middle of loaf comes out almost clean, about 60 minutes. Bread will get golden brown on top.
Allow to cool in pan for at least 15 minutes, then run a knife along perimeter of pan and invert so that loaf can cool on a rack. Allow to cool for at least an hour until slicing.
By Kim ODonnel |
January 8, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
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