Somewhere, in some capacity, everyone knows The Best Banana Bread Recipe Ever or can call upon someone – a grandmother maybe? an elderly neighbor? – in the know. We all sleep easy at night knowing that, in time of need, The Recipe can and would save Sunday mornings and Tuesday afternoons for all eternity. In all but a few instances, banana bread is made in the home. It may surface at a bake sale here and there, maybe at that really awesome coffee shop you went to that one time, but usually, it’s a homemade thing.
Here in Australia, it seems that every café and kiosk sells banana bread (and friands, which I may or may not try to tamper with in the future). Without a slice of banana bread – usually extra thick and individually plastic wrapped – I’m not so sure a coffee stand even get a license in this country.
If you need proof, look what I just found in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald from a few years ago:
Top banana in baked goods
Sydney has an extraordinary appetite for banana bread. Each week, Marrickville manufacturer Bob and Pete’s 100% Yum supplies 3000 shops and cafes with 800,000 serves of banana bread (about 72,000 loaves), plus more than 100,000 muffins, croissants, butter pastries, doughnuts, bagels, various tarts, Turkish breads and Turkish rolls…
…”We’ve been doing banana bread for about four years and the cafe market has driven it. We put eight bananas in every loaf… I think people think of it as a healthy alternative but, like anything, it’s not if you eat 14 slices of it!”
But that’s not to say that Australians confine banana bread to on-the-go coffee runs, or, like us Americans, kitchen counters. Here, banana bread can get super fancy. At a lovely little café nearby, for instance, they top thick, toasted slices of it with slightly sweetened ricotta, honey and berry compote. Mmmm.
Anyways! I decided to make banana bread not because I had a Tuesday afternoon that needed saving, but because my husband wanted me to use the nasty, blackened bananas I had left floating around in the freezer for (what may have felt like but wasn’t really, honey) months. That, and, as I’ve mentioned a few times before, our house guest is a cookie monster. My real goal here is to ply him away from the cookies with some banana bread. And hope he never figures out I keep this blog.
Moving on! Everything I learned about banana bread came not from an elderly neighbor, but from my friend and fellow (yet far superior) amateur baker, Kat. She totally taught me the frozen banana trick (they keep forever, so you can save them up until you have enough to make a cake or bread! Plus, when you defrost them, they’re perfectly mushy so no need to break your wrist mashing them up!), and pointed me to the recipe – hailed as The Best Ever – that now serves as the basis for mine.
As I write this, I’m actually eating a slice of the stuff, still warm from the oven with lashings – yes, lashings – of salted butter and some leftover cream cheese frosting. And it’s really good. I’m not going to say it’s The Best Ever, I’ll leave that up to you. I’m also including my old banana bread recipe from my pre-hand-held mixer days, when creaming butter and sugar was not really the way I wanted to spend a Tuesday afternoon, especially one that necessitated banana bread.
BANANA BREAD with butter!
adapted from The Best of Bridge. Makes 1 loaf but can be doubled. Either way, it freezes beautifully.
½ cup (110 g) butter
1 cup sugar
3 to 4 mashed bananas (previously frozen work well!)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
½ cup extras such as chocolate chunks, walnuts (blech!), crystallized ginger or raisins
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Using a hand-held mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add bananas and eggs and beat until well mixed. In another bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together and blend with the banana mixture, but do not overmix. Pour into a lightly greased loaf pan.
Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour; when it’s ready, a toothpick inserted in middle will come out almost totally clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Serve with salted buttah!
BANANA BREAD with oil!
I don’t know where this came from (Kat probably knows), but it’s really good and easy to prepare.
1⅔ cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg
½ tsp salt
¾ – 1 cup sugar, to taste
½ cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 heaping tbsp sour cream, plain yogurt, creme fraîche, etc.
3½ mashed bananas
¾ – 1 cup additions such as chocolate chunks, raisins, walnuts (eeew), whatever!
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease loaf tin, or, preferably, line with parchment paper.
In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Drizzle in oil, then add bananas, vanilla and sour cream. Gently fold dry mixture and desired toppings into wet mixture. Pour batter into desired pan (as the mixture will not rise much, don’t worry about filling it up too high). Bake 45 minutes – 1 hour.