29 September 2010

When all else fails banana bread

Banana bread
“All else” here means me. There are days when I simply cannot do anything right. Sometimes a few of those days string together and I begin to wonder why anyone (kids, husband, friends, dogs) keeps me around. I could wallow on those days (weeks) or I could throw my shoulders back and do something I know will not be a disappointment.
So sure, the world doesn't really need another banana bread recipe. My friend Justine just posted one the other day (with chocolate chips!) and if you Google “banana bread recipe” you get “about 3,330,000 hits.” But I needed something to work, and this always does.

There are two basic tricks to quick breads and muffins, first, don't over mix. Once you add the dry and wet ingredients together, stir just enough to get the flour wet, and then stop. Second, watch the bread, not just the time. For reasons known only to my oven, a recipe that took 45 minutes one day will take only 35 minutes the next time, and an overbaked quick bread is no one's friend.

Simple banana bread
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-5 very ripe bananas (3 if they're big supermarket bananas, 5 if you've been seeking out smaller bananas because your toddler requests them twice a day.)
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup add-in, optional (walnuts are a classic, but chocolate chips or chopped fresh cranberries are good, too.)

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit
Butter and flour a bundt pan. (Or use baker's spray.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Beat in sugar, again until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Beat in bananas (no need to pre-mash) starting with the mushiest one, adding next bananas when the previous one is well incorporated. It's okay to leave lumps so long as you don't mind lumps of banana in your banana bread. I happen to like them.

Put down the electric mixer and pick up a wood spoon or rubber spatula. (Do they still make rubber spatulas? Aren't they all silicone now?)

Add dry ingredients to banana mixture, folding gently just the flour is wet. Stop.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.


  1. I'm glad you posted this after all, for lots of reasons, not least of which is the mouth-watering picture that came with it! For some reason yours looks more moist and banana-ey ... I hope that if nothing else this reminded you that really, you *are* amazing, most of the time. And that none of us (I think?) have perfect weeks.

  2. I was wondering why you were so quiet the last couple of days. I love your imperfection. I hope your week gets better.



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