My Favorite Banana Bread

“Did you make something yummy today mom?” my son asks skipping home from school. Today the answer is yes. Though banana bread transcends seasons, I tend to make it more during the winter months. Domed golden brown loaves that toe the line between bread and cake sit on the counter waiting for afternoon snack time. I gently slice the tender loaf revealing the speckled interior. I hand each a thick slice, warm and slathered with butter.

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Banana bread is chock full of memories. I smile thinking of sitting at the kitchen table with Grandma Pat and eating the loaf she brought with her. She would say how healthy it is since it is full of bananas and give anyone a friendly swat if they dared to disagree. She would probably be sporting Sponge Bob Square Pants socks or Betty Boop jewelry and have a few crumbs clinging to the corners of her mouth. Banana bread was one of her favorite foods. Shortly after she passed away, Kai was born. His middle name is Patrick in remembrance of her. Making banana bread connects me to sweet memories of the past, while creating new memories for the future.

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I’ve made chocolate banana bread and bourbon banana bread. I’ve made olive oil banana bread and banana bread with flax seeds. None of these variations disappoint but I find that when I want banana bread, I want the classic. I want the bread to taste strongly of banana. I want it to have a light crumb. I want butter and warm spices. I want all the ingredients to already be in my cupboard. I want it to stand on its own without needing nuts or chocolate. I want my home to smell like heaven. This recipe checks all the boxes and I hope you feel the same.

What special memories does banana bread hold for you? I’d love to know!

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Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

I adapted this recipe from Chef John’s Banana Bread on allrecipes.com. Though commonly called “quick bread”, I think that is a misleading name. Anything that takes an hour in the oven is not quick in my mind. If I truly am in a hurry, I scoop the batter into muffin tins. I might also put the batter together and refrigerate it over night and bake it the next day. I find that light colored pans give the best results. I also always end up covering my bread with foil half way through so that the top doesn’t burn. It will look done on the outside but be completely raw in the middle. Use an instant read thermometer, like you would for meat, to determine if the bread is done baking. The bread is fully cooked at 200° F. You could also stick a skewer in the middle and when it comes out clean, you will know that the bread is finished baking.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed (10 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
  • 1 3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Thoroughly whisk flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar with the paddle attachment until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes on medium speed.
  4. Add in eggs one at a time and beat on low – medium low to emulsify the batter. Scrape the bowl in between each egg.
  5. Mix in mashed bananas, yogurt and vanilla extract. The batter will look chunky and not well mixed but hang in there, you are doing great!
  6. Add the flour mixture and stir until the flour is incorporated. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl and sides. The batter should be a cohesive mixture, thick like pancake batter and loose enough to pour.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pans. Tap bottom of pan on the counter to get rid of any air pockets.
  8. Bake for 60-70 minutes. Check at 30 minutes and cover with foil if getting too brown. An instant read thermometer should read 200°F when done.
  9. Let the bread rest in the pan for 15 minutes and remove from the pan onto a cooling rack.  Once completely cool, wrap in saran wrap and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator over night. The bread’s texture is improved with a rest and is much easier to slice. It will keep for 3-5 days.

 

Toast – The Tastiest Bite

I’m a sucker for personality tests. I find it comforting that seemingly personal quirks and internal motivations can be sorted and classified. When my husband sent me the 16 Personality test, I took the free test almost immediately. The results showed my personality type as more extroverted and organized than I often feel. Wanting to learn more, I signed up for the weekly e-newsletter which discusses challenges and opportunities for growth. Today’s topic was organization. I thought about this as I opened the fridge and pulled out the soft, white sandwich bread.

Consuls (my type from the test) are highly organized. I put the thick slice of bread into the toaster and grabbed the cold jar of natural, no stir creamy peanut butter. The toast was dark brown and smelled as toast should; nutty and reminiscent of the lazy mornings of childhood. I spread the peanut butter on thick. This can be helpful but also leads to a hard time just “being”. It’s challenging for me to slow down long enough to enjoy the very act of living. Next, I slipped the speckled skin off the ripe banana and sliced it into coins. After nestling the slices into neat rows, I grabbed the jar of honey and roughly squeezed the little bear so that honey lay in thick puddles on top of the bananas. Lastly, I sprinkled coarse salt lovingly over top and grabbed a fork.

It’s a good reminder that checking off a to-do list is not what makes for a happy life. I cut a small square of toast and speared it with my fork. The toast shattered happily in my mouth and I tasted the perfect balance of my simple breakfast. The checklist can wait until later.

Did you take the personality test? Do you have a trait that can be both challenging and helpful?