Thursday, September 9, 2010

Banana Bread

One major aspect of baking is that many foods qualify, including bread. For my first recipe, we went with a tried and true bread, Banana bread. While technically banana bread is considered a "quick bread" because it doesn't spend hours rising like traditional bread, it still takes over an hour from start to finish. It's a family favorite and one I love to share with others.

I have to admit, I picked banana bread to start because I had an overabundance of bananas sitting in my freezer. Here's a great baking tip: You can freeze bananas, peel and all! Here are my frozen bananas:

No matter the color of your bananas before freezing, they will turn a dark brown on the outside after you freeze them. Don't worry, the bananas are still good! I actually bought these bananas about three weeks ago when I was buying bananas for my kids' breakfast and froze them right away.

If you use frozen bananas, you will need to thaw them out. You can either leave them in the fridge in a bowl for a day or two or stick the bananas, peel and all, into a bowl and use the microwave. Once thawed, simply peel the bananas into the bowl.

Expect the bananas to be mushy and wet. If you have some excess water, that is totally normal. At this point, mash the bananas up with a fork or a mixer. If you are using fresh bananas, that's fine too (it comes out the same and saves some time!). Mash them up as well.

Banana Bread Recipe

2 cups of banana, mashed
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
Something to grease the pan (either butter or cooking spray)

5"x9" loaf pan

First and foremost, preheat the oven to 350 degrees! Before you do anything else, heat the oven. Ok, done? Now we can move onto the baking portion of our recipe.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. This can be mixed with a spoon or spatula or whatever you have handy, but you don't need to use a mixer for this. Get them well combined, so it looks something like this:

Now, since I had SO MANY bananas, I doubled the recipe. So while it should look like this, you may not have quite as much as I do here and that is fine!

In a separate bowl, combine the banana and butter. Use the mixer for this, it will make you life a lot easier than trying to mix it by hand. Once those are thoroughly combined, add the eggs and mix well. It should look something like this:

Combine the banana mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix these with the mixer, so they are thoroughly combined. Add the vanilla and walnuts (if you use them, I didn't this time) and mix again.

Grease your loaf pan. You can either rub a little butter along the bottom and sides or spray with cooking spray. Pour the banana mixture into the loaf pan. It should be around 3/4 of the way full (it's OK if it's fuller than that).

I did mention that I'm making two loaves because of my abundance of bananas, right? Anyway, put the loaf pan onto the middle rack of your oven and let it bake for one hour. Trust me when I say your house will start smelling amazing around the half hour mark, making you hungry for banana bread!

After you remove the pan from the oven, TURN OFF THE OVEN! If you're like me, you forget this step half the time. I usually remember about an hour or so later (or Dave, my husband, notices and turns it off for me).

Let the loaf sit in the pan for about 15 to 20 minutes. You can then remove the loaf from the pan and slice it up. You can leave it in the pan if you prefer. Aluminum foil wrapped around works well to store a whole loaf and a gallon size freezer bag will easily store a sliced loaf.

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