Sunday, November 17, 2013

Basic Banana Bread (With Three Easy Variations)

Banana breadI love banana bread. Not only is it a fun way of using up those black bananas sitting on your counter, but there are endless variations on it. This simple recipe from my vintage Joy of Cooking book is easy to adapt and personalize. Want something more tropical? Add a handful of shredded coconut. Want nuts? Chop up some pecans or walnuts and throw 'em in the batter. Feeling like Elvis today? Stir in some peanut butter and reap the health benefits of those healthy fats. Add chocolate chips to EVERYTHING.  Swap a half cup of whole wheat flour for the white. You take this banana bread recipe and you own it. Make it yours. A nice, simple banana bread recipe is the foundation of so many fancier sounding treats. Be creative and you'll soon have a recipe everyone will be begging for.

I've included my favorite variations here, but feel free to experiment on your own. 

Basic Banana Bread (Adapted from The Joy of Cooking, sixth edition)

1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3-4 very ripe bananas

Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and banana, then gradually mix in the flour. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
As black as a middle school
teacher's heart

For Peanut Butter Banana Bread: Add 1/3 cup peanut butter to butter sugar mix. Continue recipe as directed. 

For Banana Pecan/Walnut Bread: Add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts before pouring. Or add both. I won't tell.

For Coconut Banana Bread: Add 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg while sifting dry ingredients. Before pouring, add 1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut flakes and 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips. 

I cannot stress enough how much abuse this recipe can take. I've already changed it from the original by using butter instead of shortening (What was Erma Rombauer's obsession with flavorless transfats anyways? Half her baked goods have it.) and swapping brown sugar in for white. Just keep the proportions of ingredients the same and enjoy eating your glorious missteps. 

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