There is a constant in our house…and many homes, I am sure.
We all buy bananas in the belief that we will eat them as a healthy snack. Then we end the week with three or four left over, slowly turning spotted and brown.
Some may travel to the freezer. But more often than not, we end the week with a few that absolutely must either be used or thrown away.
Not one to waste food, I am constantly seeking the best recipes to use up these over ripe but still delicious fruits. Thus, we end up in the land of banana bread.
If you've made banana bread before, you know it can be a delight of slightly sweet, moist fruity bread, perfect hot from the oven or toasted with a little butter melting on it.
But over time, if you make it often enough, banana bread can become a bit boring. Many of my friends have a favorite recipe, but most generally either call for nuts or straight mashed bananas and no other additions.
And some of those recipes call for using a bunch of bowls, adding to the work of making the bread in the first place. My method keeps everything to one bowl, a sifter and a loaf pan.
I have a recipe that allows for the addition of some interesting and fun ingredients and takes a bit of the work out of the making too.
Take, for instance, chocolate chip banana bread.
Or banana bread with crystallized ginger.
Maybe banana bread with golden and brown raisins.
Or even banana bread with pineapple and coconut.
These are all possibilities to make your banana bread new and different. You can make a “theme” banana bread with tropical flavors of coconut and ginger added, an “all-in” banana bread with chocolate chips and raisins or nuts, or any combination that you like.
The key, of course, is to start out with a recipe that allows for a few additions without compromising the overall moist texture of a good basic banana bread.
You need to have about four bananas that are beginning to get very brown—the kind your kids will reject out of hand.
To keep the bowls and work to a minimum, I cream butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Then I gently beat the eggs on top of the creamed butter and brown sugar. It doesn't really matter if the creamed mixture and the eggs get a bit mixed up during the beating.
I then mash the bananas into the mixture and stir it all together. I measure my flour, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift them together on top of the wet ingredients.
Before I stir everything together, I “float” any other additions on top of the flour.
Once all of that is in the bowl, I stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until all of the ingredients are incorporated. I pour the batter into a prepared (lightly greased) loaf pan and bake.
Voila, one-bowl banana bread!
All-in-One Banana Bread
(You can make this “All In” Banana Bread by adding a half cup of raisins and a half cup of chocolate chips in once the flour is in the big bowl and before mixing everything together.)
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 overripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or dark rum
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a large (9x5 inch) loaf pan or two smaller loaf pans. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together until they get a little fluffy. Crack the eggs over the creamed mixture. Use a fork to lightly beat the eggs. Peel the bananas and place them on top of the eggs. Using the same fork, mash the bananas into the eggs and creamed mixture. Add the vanilla or rum. Mix all those wet ingredients together well. Measure the flour, baking soda and salt into a sifter or sieve. Sift the dry ingredients right on top of the wet mixture. Add a half cup of any other ingredients you might like (such as chocolate chips, chopped pecans, raisins, coconut or dried pineapple chunks) to the top of the flour. Mix all of the dry and optional ingredients into the wet ingredients just until everything is incorporated. Be sure you don't see any bits of flour separated from the batter. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let it cool and enjoy.