9.20.2010

using what you got.

I had high hopes of making Tulips & Flight Suit's highly recommended pumpkin bread this weekend, but with a freezer full of ripely frozen bananas, it was time. Way past time to put them to good use, and while this isn't exactly a new weekend recipe, it's new to you, from amazing sis-in-law no. 1, and is a favorite in our family.
Whitney is an amazing cook, and she cooks healthy, which means she's an amazing healthy cook. Hard to find those, so we're glad she's one of us. She taught me never to toss a slightly spotted banana, and to instead stash it in the freezer to keep until it's baking time. Best tip ever.

I've strayed a few times and tried other recipes, but I keep coming back to Whitney's butter-less banana bread. It's nothing fancy or complicated, which I like. I add roasted walnuts for some crunch, but it's generally very simple. It's light and spongey and I like to under cook it just a bit so it's a little ... gummy.

I bake this bread in mini loaf pans, but you can certainly bake this in a larger loaf pan. I like cooking small with my unpredictable oven (mini = more control?). This recipe doubles well, and if you find yourself with a cloudy college football Saturday, you can make extra loaves, freeze and save for later.

Pumpkin bread ... you're next. My foodie friend Betsy made Mary's recipe yesterday and gave it two thumbs up.

Whitney's Banana Bread with Roasted Walnuts
2 large or 3 smaller very ripe bananas*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup yogurt**
2 room temperature eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flower
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole walnuts, dry roasted in a saute pan

Grease 3 mini loaf pans (to really keep this butter-less: use baking spray).

Mix bananas, oil and yogurt in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until combined. With the mixer running, add eggs one at a time, and then add the sugar and vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the banana mixture in three batches until completely mixed. Use the spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice during mixing.

Roughly chop your roasted walnuts and toss them in a small bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup flour to coat all the nuts.***  Add the walnuts and flour to the banana mixture. Mix until well combined.

Pour mixture evenly into loaf pans, about 3/4 full and place them on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes. Test after 40 minutes if you prefer to manage the gooey in your bread. Allow to cool on racks before removing from pans.

Yield: 3 mini loaves or 2 larger loaves, depending on your pan size.
Some additional notes:

*If you freeze your bananas, you can let them defrost in the frig for several hours (or even better: overnight) prior to baking. Make sure to set them on a paper towel or in a bowl. They sweat and ooze a bit. (This is also a good time to get your eggs out and let them come to room temperature.)

**I like keeping this on the healthy-ish side, so I use non-fat yogurt. Plain or vanilla works, though I usually use vanilla because that's what I have on-hand. I'm sure real bakers are cringing. I know whole-fat is better.

***This is a trick I learned from The BC. She says that flour-coating the walnuts prevents them from sinking to the bottom of your loaf, which makes perfect sense to me. I've noticed she applies this to most any nut or chip she adds to breads + cakes, and now I do it too. (She's also a fan of dry-roasting nuts to bring out their natural oils and intensify their flavor. You can certainly throw them in un-roasted, or omit them altogether, and if you do, make sure you add the full 2 cups of flour when whisking your dry ingredients.)

For a special touch around the holidays, I like to serve cubes of banana bread with a bowl of rum whipped cream for topping/dipping. I follow The BC's recipe.

4 comments:

Karen said...

This sounds delicious and I love the tip about freezing the bananas that get freckles---I really only like slightly green bananas to eat raw.

paper{whites} said...

Me too!! It's a great way to not have to ever let them go to waste.

michelle Oyler said...

hi, al!
i had 3 very ripe bananas and thought of your post. i just made the recipe and used 2 bigger pans instead of 3 minis. i baked them for about 43 minutes and then checked them and they were over cooked. maybe my oven in too hot. of course, i had to cut into it immediately and the flavor is great! i'll try it again when the next batch of nanas are ready and cut down on the baking time. yum!!! thanks for the recipe.
michelle

paper{whites} said...

oh no! i think this means i really need an oven thermometer. i love this recipe b/c it seems to stay so moist after days of sitting in some foil. XO