I’m picky when it comes to bananas. Aside from the fact that I try to only buy bananas when I can find Fair Trade bananas, I love snacking on a good, medium-sized banana with no green or bruises, and an even smattering of small brown freckles. Like I said, I’m picky.
I have a tendency to buy a couple of bunches of underripe bananas with the intention of giving them a few days to ripen up at home. I think, “Man. I’m gonna eat so many bananas this week… I feel healthier and more vibrant already. Look out, world!”
Let me be extra dramatic and tell you that the only thing I hate more than an underripe banana is an overripe banana. I guess you could say I have a bit of a masochistic streak because without fail, I’ll forget about them for a week, panic because I really hate to waste food, then force myself to choke down as many overly ripe bananas as I can in 24 hours. A living hell!
This week I put an end to this torturous cycle and threw together a simple banana bread using a mishmash of the seemingly random ingredients I had on hand. And I’ll be damned, it was accidentally the best loaf I’ve banana bread I’ve ever made.
Sweet and full-flavored–this is not a healthy superfood but rather a pleasant fruit and nut cake with a few superfluous substitution to make me feel a little bit better about eating half a loaf in one sitting. Please please please feel free to take this recipe as a suggestion and use whatever you have on hand. Don’t stress, I promise I won’t be mad.
What you’ll need:
- 3 decently sized, very ripe bananas
- 2/3 cup of cane sugar
- 1/3 cup of honey
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (plus a teaspoon to grease the pan)
- 1/4 cup of nearly room temperature plain full fat yogurt
- 2 large room temperature eggs
- 1 tablespoon of half and half
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cup raw walnuts, crushed roughly by hand
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, dash of vanilla (non-essential and omitted because I didn’t have them)
You’ll also need a stiff wooden spoon, a whisk, a rubber spatula, a wire cooling rack, a flour sifter or wire mesh strainer, a standard sized loaf pan and three bowls: a large mixing bowl, a medium-sized mixing bowl, and any ol’ cereal bowl or small mixing bowl.
- Preheat your oven to 325°.
- Grease your loaf pan with a teaspoon of olive oil on a paper towel and set aside.
- In the largest of the three bowls, combine your honey and sugar and mix with a wooden spoon for roughly 30 seconds. You could also use maple syrup or agave if you don’t eat honey.
- Add the olive oil and yogurt to your honey/sugar mixture and work with a wooden spoon until lumpy and slightly incorporated. Use your wooden spoon to scrape down the sides of the bowl toward the center periodically as you stir. The mixture will be very tight and hard to work with at this point, but don’t worry! Everything’s going to be ok. Go head and set it aside for now.
- In the smallest of the three bowls, pour the 1 tablespoon of half and half (or milk, soy milk…your call) over peeled banana chunks and mash with a fork until mostly smooth with a few small lumps. Set this bowl aside for now.
- Into the remaining medium-sized bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set this bowl aside.
- Grab you sugar/honey/oil/yogurt mixture bowl again and give everything another good stir, scraping down the sides as you go. By now the sugar should be mostly dissolved and everything should be pretty much evenly incorporated. Gently whisk the two eggs, one at a time, into the bowl. whisk gently until smooth.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrap all of your banana mash into the big bowl and fold in until evenly incorporated.
- Add about 1/3 of your sifted dry ingredients to the bowl and fold in gently. Add another 1/3 dry ingredients to the bowl and fold gently again. Add the remaining sifted dry ingredients and fold gently, using your rubber spatula to scrape the side down into down toward the center of the bowl periodically. Your batter is ready to go with there are no visible dry ingredients left in the bowl and only small lumps throughout.
- Pour your batter into your greased loaf pan, being careful to not over fill the pan. A quarter-inch shy of completely full is a pretty safe bet.
- Bake at 325° for about an hour or until the sides pull a way slightly from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the loaf pulls out clean (think moist crumbs not sticky batter). Oven temperatures vary dramatically. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with the toothpick test yet, do it because it will seriously change your whole life.
Once your banana bread passes the toothpick test, cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer the loaf from the pan to a wire cooling rack to cool for an additional 30 minutes. As you can probably tell from the picture above, I left my loaf in the hot pan for too long and it continued to brown on the bottom making for a delicious albeit slightly less attractive slice. Tip: I find it helpful to coerce the loaf from the pan by gently sliding the tip of a butter knife all the way down into the crack between the edge of your bread and the pan, and carefully working it around the entire edge.
Enjoy a slice while it’s still warm with a nice big cup of coffee or tea. Another tip: If I know the loaf will be eaten quickly (within a day or two) I simply wrap the cooled loaf in a clean cotton kitchen cloth and store it on a plate on the counter. You could also cut it in to slices and store it in Tupperware if that suits you better.
And that’s it! Happy baking ❤