After posting about my recent baking adventures, I’ve received requests for recipes and photos. Despite the
constant nagging kind entreaties for photos, a spur-of-the-moment trip to the local electronics store did not turn out well. (My camera has not seen the light of day for a few years.) No camera for Ana. You’ll have to use your imagination. 🙂
This recipe is for Penny, who wanted an easy first baking idea. It’s also a simple, easy-to-serve, no-fuss dessert suitable for all but the stuffiest of parties. I’ve made this banana bread in three continents, ten countries, and hundreds of homes. While I love to experiment with new desserts, this is the recipe I use when I have limited time or need to be positive it will turn out well in unfamiliar circumstances. I learned how to make banana bread when I was a child, and through the years I have experimented with different variations. Banana bread batter is simple and sturdy enough to withstand a fair amount of abuse, so there aren’t many ways to ruin it. I have managed to do so on one occasion, though.
Don’t take the bread out of the oven when it’s partially baked and hope to finish baking it later. (In my defense, I was about 16 and had to leave to baby-sit the neighborhood kids.)
Don’t forget to add the baking soda and baking powder. (I haven’t actually done this, but it would be disastrous. Other mistakes will make your banana bread taste less yummy, but it’s pretty hard to actually ruin it.)
That’s it! Ready to make banana bread?
Note: I use imperial measurements, but I’ve put approximate conversions. I used this site as a reference. I acknowledge the silliness of giving millileter measurements for baking powder, etc., but I couldn’t find weight conversions for those dry ingredients.
First, gather the ingredients you’ll need. I’ve noted my preferences after each ingredient, but they’re personal choice. You can, for example, use unsalted butter if you prefer.
- 2/3 cup (150g) butter, margarine, or shortening: I prefer salted sweetcream butter. Leave on the counter until the butter is room temperature and easy to mix.
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar: I use white granulated.
- 2 eggs: I use large.
- 2 teaspoons (10mL) vanilla extract: I use premium real vanilla extract, but I grew up using imitation. The real stuff is expensive.
- Bananas: Three, unless you have two very large ones. They should be brown to give the bread better flavor. You can use yellow bananas, but the bread won’t taste as good.
- 1 3/4 cup of flour (225g): I use unbleached all-purpose white flour
- 2 tsp baking powder (10mL)
- 1/2 tsp (2.5mL) salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda (Are you really going to make me try to convert this? Just sprinkle a little bit in, ok? :P)
Optional add-ins: Cinnamon powder, milk, nuts (walnuts are a popular choice), and/or chocolate chips.
Equipment you’ll need:
- Two medium-size mixing bowls: You can use one if you are comfortable with mixing dry ingredients right in the bowl with the wet ingredients–if you don’t know what I mean, use two bowls.
- Wooden spoon (Ooh yes! Ooh baby! Maybe two wooden spoons…one for business and one for pleasure.)
- Electric mixer: You can use a wooden spoon only, if you wish. I use an electric mixer for part of the process because stirring hurts my wrist.
- Loaf pan: I like metal ones, but you can also use glass, tinfoil, or even silicone. You will have to adjust the baking times, though. I believe that the measurements are approximately 8x5x2 inches for a 1lb loaf, but it’s the typical loaf pan size. You can use mini loaf pans if you want to give away individual gift loaves, but again you’ll have to adjust the baking times.
- Rubber spatula (Oooh!): Not absolutely necessary, but it does make it easier to transfer the batter to the pan.
- A thin-bladed steak or bread knife, or a toothpick to test whether the bread is done.
Ready to start? Great! Oh, and Penny, you need an oven. 😀 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (180 Celsius).
Peel the bananas and mash. I use a fork and mash them onto a plate. They should be mushy, similar to baby food. Set them aside.
In one of the mixing bowls, put the butter. Mix just the butter by itself. Then add the sugar and add until everything is the same consistency. Add the two eggs, vanilla extract, and bananas one item at a time and stir until everything is mixed well.
In the other mixing bowl, dump (in any order) the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix with a clean fork. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredient mixture and stir with the wooden spoon (the clean wooden spoon, not the one you’ve used for funny business). Add the rest of the dry ingredient mixture and stir well.
If you want to use the optional add-ins, this is when you can mix in the milk (a very small amount, such as a tablespoon), cinnamon powder (a generous sprinkle), chocolate chips (a large handful, perhaps 1/2 a cup), or nuts (same as chocolate chips). Probably not all of them in the same bread, though. 🙂
Grease the bottom (bottom inside of the pan only, not the sides) of the loaf pan in one of the following ways:
- Coat the bottom with a thin layer of butter, margarine, shortening, or cooking oil. Shake a bit of flour into the bottom, and tap the sides to distribute the flour evenly. Shake the excess flour out of the pan.
- Cut wax or parchment paper to the size of the bottom of the pan, and place it inside.
- Spray with cooking spray. (I dislike cooking spray and never use it, but it’s the most convenient.) Dust with flour as in the first method.
Using the rubber spatula, scrape the batter into your loaf pan. For a more even loaf, try to spread the batter into the corners of the pan.
Put the pan into the oven and bake approximately 45 minutes. This time will depend on your oven, the kind of loaf pan you use, and exactly how much moisture you have in your batter. Your time might be longer or shorter, anywhere from 40 to 55 minutes. Check the bread to see if the top is baked, and stick the toothpick or knife into the center of the loaf. If the toothpick/knife comes out clean (with only a crumb or two stuck to it), the bread is done. If the toothpick/knife has wet banana bread batter stuck to it, you’ll need to bake longer.
Once the bread is done, take it out of the oven and cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then take a butter knife (or your steak knife) and loosen the edges of the loaf next to the pan. Turn the banana bread onto a cooling rack or bread board and allow to stand for at least another 10 minutes before slicing.
You can dress up the banana bread with drizzled white or chocolate icing, but generally I serve this in thick slices cut into half.
Bonus explainer: In Ana’s world, putting butter on fresh banana bread is an insult. It means the bread is dry and needs butter to make it more palatable. Some banana bread is dry, especially when you skimp on the bananas, but mine is not. Never! Blasphemy. 😛 Over the years I have (grudgingly) accepted that some people do like fresh, moist banana bread with butter (heathens!) and that it’s about them, not me. Still, I appreciate when people eat my banana bread the right way. 😀