Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Best Banana Bread Ever - Really

I love banana bread - really, truly love it. Or at least I thought I did. I was starting to believe that really good banana bread was one of those tricks of childhood memory (like remembering that the snow was really, really deep - way over your head - and somehow thinking that made it 6 feet instead of 3 feet).

And then, one day as I was surfing epicurious (as one does, I suppose) and comparing banana bread recipes - and I started reading the comments. And I found that everyone was referring back to a recipe left in a comment, rather than the recipe itself. Intrigued, I kept reading (generally, reading tens or hundreds of somewhat similar comments is not something I recommened, but in this case it led to gold). And I found it - the elusive perfect banana bread recipe (or so claimed by all of these people). And so I tried it. And there it was. It wasn't a childhood creation. Despite what Starbucks and other deli's have done to it - Banana Bread, made well, is in fact one of nature's perfect foods. Each bite was moist (that's what happens when the recipe is 90% butter (yum!)) and banana-y. I reveled in it. And I told people about it. In fact, I recounted it bite by bite for some of my friends.

And, quite understandibly, they asked why I was telling the story, but not providing the bread (it turns out that I am not the only banana bread lover out there). I promised to make some. But the timing was never right. And so I kept talking about it - and they kept being annoyed (I would say justifiably). And then I had the idea. I was going to L's house for dinner. I could bring little mini-banana breads for each person and give them out after dinner (if it's good enough for all the nice restaurants to give a little gift for tomorrow's breakfast, then it's good enough for L. (her apartment is kind of like a good restaurant in that the food is great and I always enjoy myself)). I had grandiose plans of tissue paper and ribbons. I ended up with mini-banana breads in ziploc bags (rubber meets the road and I realize I have to worry about the bread more than the presentation - and not being Martha, I can't do both).

And so, finally, delivery of the breads!

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 3 very ripe bananas (I sometimes throw in an extra if I have it)

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 1/4 cups flour

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 cup crushed walnuts (optional - I actually leave them out as I don't like nuts in my banana bread)

  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla (this was not in the original recipe, but I'm a firm believer that most things taste better with vanilla (normal people also might cut it down to 1t, but...))

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream sugar and butter. Add bananas and eggs beaten. Sift flour,salt and baking soda 3 times (I have never bothered to do this and it's always been fine). Blend and add to banana mixture. Pour patter into a 9x5 loaf pan. Bake for 55 min (or so, definitely test it with a fork as the timing here is really variable). Cool on rack (I've had trouble getting it out of my 9x5 non-stick pan, but then when I made it in these cheap mini-pans for giving out, it popped right out - not sure why)



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