Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Unbelievable Banana Bread

I am not joking-you might have a banana bread you really like, but I am telling you this one is absolutely amazing!
I have always made my mom's recipe for banana bread, which I think she acquired from her mother. It is good, and more importantly, it is what I was used to, which sort of implies that it doesn't really have to be good, it is just the thing we crave because it is familiar. But, nonetheless, her banana bread is good-it is a wonderful, simple recipe that calls only for staples, and is a great way to use those leftover, over-ripe bananas.

This banana bread, on the other hand, is a work of art. It is for that time that you want something extra special. The recipe makes two loaves, and I am telling you it is an absolutely grand gift. Just the other day I made up a batch and took the second loaf to an elderly couple living in a retirement home. They shared it with some friends, who asked if they could pay me to make more!
Add a cup of dark chocolate chunks for an extra special treat!
The recipe calls for buttermilk, which gives this loaf tenderness, but that density you can expect from buttermilk, and the large amount of sugar used gives the bread a crispy, sugary top that reminds me of my favorite part of muffins.Vanilla and cinnamon give subtle flavors to this delicious bread.
I am not kidding you, when I bake this bread if I do not take the second loaf to someone it rarely makes it to the next day's breakfast. Walnuts add a delightful depth to the recipe, but if you don't like them, you can leave them out and the bread is still divine.
As bananas begin to become over-ripe at our house, I peel them and place them in a plastic freezer bag. Once I have enough for a recipe, I just set them on the counter for about an hour and they are extremely soft. They practically dissolve into the batter, leaving you without any big pieces of banana!

Unbelievable Banana Bread
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups very ripe bananas
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. Grease two 9-by-3-inch loaf pans. Combine all ingredients, except bananas and walnuts, in a stand mixer. Once thoroughly combined, add bananas and walnuts, if using.
Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and place in oven.
Bake until bread is a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Transfer pans to wire racks and let cool for five minutes before removing bread from pans.
Let cool an additional 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe from Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook.

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