Friday, May 10, 2013

Olivia's banana bread

I told a friend recently that I wasn't trying to attract a readership to this blog because I couldn't be bothered with readers who didn't know how to cream butter. Her response was - or course - how do you cream butter? I'm still not backtracking on this one - I will not be one of those bloggers who teaches baking picture by picture (I have neither the time nor the inclination) but creaming butter is of importance in this recipe. You can just melt the butter and the bread will taste just fine, but not fantastic. Here's a basic guide: how to cream butter. If you find your butter is still too solid, then put it in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time on the lowest heat setting possible. To bring your eggs to room temperature quickly immerse them in a bowl of hot tap water for a few minutes.

The only other thing to be absolute sure of is that you use OVERRIPE bananas. I cannot stress enough how important this is! I'm talking black bananas. Bananas that have brown spots on the inside too. Too often I taste banana bread that has an artificial banana taste to it. This is the result of using ripe-for-eating bananas. Just.... trust me on this one. Here's a picture of how ripe I mean:

A good trick is to put over-ripe bananas in the freezer. I usually end up with one banana per bunch that end up getting over-ripe enough, and I just plunk it in the freezer. When I have three I just defrost overnight in the frig and make banana bread in the morning!

Historically, I use 1/3 whole wheat flour and 2/3 white flour. More recently I've been using 2/3 whole grain spelt and 1/3 buckwheat.  And for sugar: historically I just used white sugar but more recently have been using agave syrup or unrefined sugar (which is a bit coarser than normal sugar.) All work great so use whatever you have to hand.

While I've posted other recipes that I've tweaked and twisted from the original, this recipe truly is mine. I've adapted it over time from so many different sources and made it so many dozens of times that it merits my moniker.

Olivia's Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed over-ripe banana (usually about 3 bananas)

Preheat the oven to 350 F and generously butter a loaf pan or 12 muffin tins.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, with a handheld mixer or a wooden spoon, cream the butter and the sugar. (See above.) Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the banana. Dump in the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

Pour into buttered tins and spread evenly. Bake until the top just springs back from your fingertip's touch, or until a tester comes out with moist crumbs. (About 45 min - 1 hour for the loaf, 15-20 minutes for the muffins. All depends on your particular oven, your altitude, your baking container and the weather. Not necessarily in that order, and not joking.)

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