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The Ever-Changing Banana Bread Recipe
I don't know about the rest of you, but I've never been very good at coloring between the lines or following the status quo. So, it's not surprising to hear that I apply the same mindset when it comes to cooking or baking. I'll occasionally consult recipes in order to get a general idea, but I'm horrible when it comes to following step by step instructions. I'd rather skim over the information for the crucial stuff and then do my own thing!
Today I'd like to share what I like to call my "Ever-Changing Banana Bread" recipe. It's sort-of like that old '80s movie, "The Neverending Story," in the sense that every time I revisit this recipe the end results are a little bit different. I always get a yummy loaf (or two) of banana bread, but I like to tweak with the recipe and try new things so the flavoring changes a lot.
When I first started baking banana bread, I consulted an old cookbook that I found at a yard sale many years ago. It's titled "The Good Housekeeping Cookbook." Their version of banana bread gave me a good place to start, and although I've made several changes to the recipe since then I still feel that it's important to mention that they were my original source of information.
- 1 3/4 cup Flour
- 1/3 cup Standard "White" Sugar, Note: If you don't have brown sugar, no worries. Just use 2/3 of standard granulated sugar.
- 1/3 cup Brown Sugar, I like the extra flavor that the brown sugar adds to the recipe.
- 1 teaspoon Double acting baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 cup Shortening or Butter, Note: I prefer to the butter that comes in plastic tubs. It's more versatile than shortening.
- 2-4 Mashed Bananas, The original recipe only called for two, but I like to add extra bananas. It's up to you!
- 2 Eggs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Grease 1-2 loaf pans
- Mix dry ingredients
- Add butter or shortening and mix well. (* The mixture will look really lumpy and dry at this stage.)
- Add bananas and eggs. I like to chop the bananas into 1 inch thick chunks first. This makes it easier to mix them into the rest of the ingredients. I'll also add a splash of milk (well, in my case soy milk) if the batter seems to dry. Use your own judgment.
Okay, at this point you have a bowl of basic banana bread batter. This is the fun part where you get to play with the recipe a little bit. Depending on your mood, you can either leave the batter as it is and continue on to step #6. Or, you can take a look around your kitchen and pantry for other ingredients to experiment with.
For instance, I recently bought a HUGE bag of roasted almonds at Costco. So, the last few times I've made this recipe I've crunched up some of the nuts and added them to the batter for extra flavor. I have a pretty basic kitchen so, lacking a nut cracker, I simply wrapped the almonds in a cloth towel and then used the end of a wooden roller to crunch the almonds into chunks. I added 3/4 of the almonds to the raw batter and then sprinkled the rest over the top. The end result was delicious!
Alternate Ingredient Suggestions:
Nuts-- almonds or walnuts would work well
1 tablespoon of vanilla-- LOVE this! I always add this extra ingredient
Cinnamon and Sugar-- I always have a spice shaker in my pantry filled with a mix of 3/4 sugar, 1/4 cinnamon. I like to add a few shakes to the mixed batter as a final step before baking.
Fruit-- I've got some frozen blueberries in my freezer that I'm dying to try in this recipe. Dried raisins would also work well.
Use your imagination!
6. Spread your mixed batter evenly into your loaf pan(s).
* 7. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar generously over the top of the raw batter. In my book, this is the most important step. Once the bread is done, the sugar will add an extra crunchy-sweetness to the bread. I guess you could call this "encrusting" the bread with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Trust, this step will keep your family coming back for more!
8. Bake 55 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees F. The bread is done when you a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Let cool and then enjoy!