We have a hard time keeping bananas in our kitchen. I am convinced that this results from a combination of our kitchen being very warm year round and a poor selection of produce in stores. It never fails – I buy bananas for my cereal, and two days later they are brown. When I discovered last week that we had three brown bananas, I took decisive action before they ended up in the garbage.
I’ve made banana bread before, but it’s never been anything special. The first time, I tried a chocolate chip version from Food Network Magazine. Like most recipes from that publication, it was “just ok.” It was a bit dry and all of the chips sunk to the bottom. My second attempt was a vegan recipe that turned out to be more like banana cake than banana bread. Good, but not what I was hoping for.
This time around, I wanted a basic, flavorful, bread-like outcome. Something I could enjoy eat for breakfast. I turned to America’s Test Kitchen’s The New Best Recipe. It was a birthday gift from my dear friend Lindsay this summer and it has quickly become my latest obsession. Other recipes from this book have been fantastic, so I was hopeful the banana bread would be no exception.
Straight away, I mastered a new skill – dusting my bake ware with flour. I’ve done quite a bit of baking in my time and am familiar with greasing a pan. I remember my mother teaching me how to use a sandwich baggie to rub Crisco on brownie trays when I was child. But America’s Test Kitchen is dedicated to the greasing & flouring method – it shows up in almost all of their baking recipes. This was new to me, but it was much easier than I had anticipated.
The rest of the recipe was straight forward – wet ingredients in one bowl, dry in another, fold together and pour in the pan. The addition of toasted walnuts, which I chopped and toasted myself, was fun. I rarely bake with nuts. And when I do, I get lazy and skip the toasting – this time I stuck to the recipe.
I was a little nervous when the bread was still gooey after the allotted 55 minutes of baking. But our oven is never hot enough and another 10 minutes did the trick.
The outcome? Delicious! The bread was fluffy, moist, and flavorful. After cooling for five minutes, it slipped right out of the baking pan – making me a convert to the grease & flour prep method forever.
Mark, and his sweet tooth, “teased” me all day about not trying the chocolate chip variation on the next page. But even he had to admit that this recipe could stand on its own without the extra sweetness.
The recipe said it would keep for three days if wrapped in plastic. I had to compromise with tin foil – no plastic wrap in the house. But we found it stayed fresh for five days – giving us homemade breakfast for an entire week! And to think I bought those bananas for plain old cereal…