Thursday, August 14, 2008

Better Banana Bread

Good news, last night’s dinner experiment was redeemed with Better Banana Bread! I happened to have a couple of very ripe bananas on the counter and needed to use up the left over yogurt from the crispy chicken recipe so I Googled a banana bread that used yogurt. Here’s the one I tried from The Fresh Loaf:

Better Banana Bread
Makes 1 huge loaf or 3 small loaves

Preheat the oven to 350.

In one bowl, combine:
1/2 stick (4-5 tablespoons) butter, softened
2 eggs
2 or 3 very ripe bananas
1 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
2/3 cup sugar
Use a potato masher, fork, or spoon to squish the banana and mix the ingredients together. It is alright for there to be small (1 centimeter) chunks of banana in the batter, but you want most of the banana to be reduced to mush.

In another bowl, combine:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until the ingredients are blended together.

If you like, stir in additional ingredients here, such as chopped walnuts or pecans, dried cherries or apricots, or chocolate chips. A handful (about a half a cup) is about right.

Pour the dough into greased baking pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Small loaves take around 30 minutes; a normal-sized loaf takes around 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven. This bread is great warm, but it is excellent cold too.

After they have cooled for 5 or 10 minutes the loaves can be removed from the pan to cool. Once they are cool they can be individually wrapped and frozen.

The only ingredient that Im not sure I like is the cinnamon. Had I baked this on a crisp autumn day, I would love it but cinnamon just isn’t a summer spice in my kitchen. It added an interesting flavor, that’s for sure. Im wondering what nutmeg would taste like. What other spices would you use?

I added walnuts (a 2oz bag) and a few handfuls of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I would have used milk chocolate but a little squirrel ate them all before I had a chance. I also poured in some vanilla since my yogurt was plain. I was only able to get one standard size loaf out of this mix and I baked it for about 55 minutes. The yogurt really kicks up the moisture in this bread but beware, it does make it a bit heavy. So if you’re looking for a light snack bread, find a recipe without yogurt.

I have some bananas frozen in the freezer so Im going to keep experimenting with this recipe. I think some sort of a fruit thrown in with the walnuts would be tasty…cherries, currants, cranberries… Mmmmmm!

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