Sunday, August 31, 2008

Banana Bread

Back in the 1960's there was a home cooking revival that along with the well known Pillsbury cookbook gave banana bread its stardom and ever after popularity. I dare say there are hundreds of variations on this beloved bread which include nuts, raisins, cranberries and even peppermint. The unknown scandal of banana bread though is that it really is not a bread or at least it should not be. In reality, banana bread should be a muffin! Like many other quick breads, banana bread has succumb to being over processed which really results in more of a banana cake than a bread. I've found the following recipe to be outstanding. It is the mainstay in our household and will most likely continue to be so for quite some time. The recipe consists of three bowls for mixing: two "wet bowls" and one "dry bowl." In the first "wet bowl" mix together three or four ripe banana's (really, as long as no furry stuff is growing off them they will be perfect) with one cup of sugar. I use a potato masher and find it works very well for this. Turn it into mush as if you're least favorite person was in that bowl. In the second "wet bowl" mix together two large eggs, one stick of melted and cooled butter and a teaspoon of almond extract. This adds a nutty flavor to the bread and makes the kitchen smell delicious! In the meantime, set your oven rack to one position below the very top rails. Preheat to 350. Prepare a pan with butter and parchment paper. Then, in a third and much larger bowl, sift two cups of all purpose flour together with a teaspoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of fine salt. Make a depression in the center and set aside. Combine the two wet bowls until well mixed. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Now be careful at this step. You want to mix the ingredients gently until you see the last of the white flour disappear. No more. This is why banana bread should really be a muffin not a bread. You want lumps. They will add to the structure of the bread and ultimately give you a scrumptious bread, not a cake. If you want fold in extras at this time like pecans, walnuts, craisins, etc. Pour the batter into your bread pan and place in the oven for 40 minutes. After that time, check to see that your bread has achieved a perfect caramel brown on top and place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. Allow it to bake for another 10-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. When the bread is baked, take it out and let the pan cool on a rack for 15 minutes. If you have used a sling of parchment paper, pull the bread out of the pan and let it further cool to room temperature. If you rap the bread tightly in saran wrap it will keep for about 5 days. Trust me, it won't last that long anyway!!

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