Hot on the heels of last week’s carrot bread posting comes another quick bread. I had fully intended to hold off on this banana bread and instead write about the delicious-sounding acorn squash, roasted garlic, and spinach soup I had been dreaming about all week. But in an attempt to savor what will hopefully be my last week of unemployment (fingers crossed!), I decided to go see a matinee of Babel yesterday afternoon only to emerge so dazed and overwrought that I barely managed to drag myself to Trader Joe’s to pick up the remaining ingredients for the soup. Long story short, when I finally made it home around 6:30, Dylan told me he had to be at his rehearsal at 7:30, leaving little time to make my soup (drats!)…so that will have to wait until tonight and instead of writing about the mediocre frozen pizza we had (don’t ask, we’re not usually frozen pizza type people), I figured I’d write up our favorite banana bread recipe.
Dylan’s running group (can you tell he’s a man of many activities?) was doing an 18-mile race last Sunday morning, followed by a restorative pot-luck brunch. So we made up a couple loaves of our go-to, no-fail banana bread from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition with 1,000 Recipes. For those who aren’t familiar with the cookbook, it’s by America’s Test Kitchen, the people who put together the terrific food-geek “magazine”, Cook’s Illustrated. Which means that every recipe comes with a long explanation of why the other 25 versions of said recipe didn’t work and how they arrived at this final version. Whether you love or hate their long-winded descriptions (I’m in the former group), there’s something to be said for knowing the recipe in front of you was the result of weeks of testing. The New Best Recipe has become our standard reference for traditional recipes and pretty much everything we’ve made has been amazing…the mac and cheese? Terrific. Brownies? To die for. Chocolate cake? Don’t even get me started…it may be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. While the banana bread can’t even begin to compete with the chocolate cake, it’s pretty darn good. So much so that we made two loaves so that we could hoard one to ourselves.
This banana bread is moist on the inside, but has a crispy crust rather than that really wet, oily crust that some have. Ours turned out a bit dense this time as we were having some flour issues (namely, lumps) and had to over-stir a bit. But if you follow directions (always tough), you should end up with a delightful, easy banana bread that always ends up a crowd-pleaser.
The New Best Recipe‘s Banana Bread (one 9-inch loaf)
2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 1/4 cups walnuts, chopped coarse (optional)
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 very ripe, soft bananas, mashed well
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Put an oven rack in the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×5 inch loaf pan and then dust with flour, tapping out extra.
2. If using walnuts, spread on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3.Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and walnuts together into a large bowl and set aside.
4. Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with a wooden spoon in a medium bowl. Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
5. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The bread can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored for up to 3 days.)