January 21, 2011

Gratuitous Banana Bread

Another banana bread recipe.  You need it like you need another hole in the head.

I've got nothing fancy to add to this world of bread, no reason it stands out from the crowd of other recipes that are out there other than nostalgia.  Go ahead and do a quick Google search for banana bread.  See you when you're done sifting through the eleventy zillion options that are out there for you.  Really, I can wait.

But for this I am not apologizing.  There's something so comforting about a simple loaf of banana and nut goodness.  No fancy-schmancy gimmicks or innovative ideas.  Just the other morning I baked some up simply because I had nothing in the house for breakfast - the stash of biscotti that I'd made my morning routine since Christmas had run out and the Cheerios box lay empty in a pile to be recycled.  There are always overripe and abandoned bananas in the freezer and a stash of various nuts in the pantry completing the makings of morning time, or snack time, contentment.

This recipe is well loved, as is the cookbook it comes from.  The banana nut bread recipe that is within is one you don't even have to search for, the book just seems to open knowingly to the page you're seeking.  Currently that book lies on my mother's shelf, in two pieces with no cover or back, the pages yellowed and stained with use.  There are several pages that have fallen out and been tucked back in, a few might even be missing.  These are signs of love.  My copy of the recipe though, is scribbled in a yellow spiral bound notebook that is a compilation of food I grew up loving.  Mostly simple recipes that would help guide me in the kitchen on my first foray out into the wide world of living as adult, away from my parents.  This was before I discovered foodblogs and the even wider world of the food related internet resources.

This bread is like home to me.  The other versions, the dressed up ones, indeed have their place, but they are no stand-in for my no frills, one bowl and mix it up, make it in my sleep, plain banana nut bread.

Banana Nut Bread
Adapted from Betty Crocker 

Trust me, I love me some dressed up banana bread as much as anyone - lightly spiced and studded with crystallized ginger, swirled with a chocolaty counterpart, or simply with a bit of chocolate chips thrown in - but this plain Jane version always has me coming back.  I'm going to go ahead and say that the extra step of toasting the nuts is key, do not skip it.  I find whirling them around for a few seconds in a food processor is a quick way to get them chopped to the right consistency.  This is a one bowl operation, why not dirty one more dish? Besides, I really need to get out of the habit of eating dessert-like food for breakfast. 

1 loaf

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup milk
2 -3 ripe bananas, mashed [I use 3 to keep things moist]
1 egg
1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/2  teaspoons cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of ground allspice

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

Measure all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir together with a wooden spoon until fully mixed and the batter is completely moistened.  Pour into baking pan and bake 55 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the top is deep golden in color.

Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then invert it onto a plate and back onto the rack to finish cooling.

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