Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Banana Bread

¨There’s a fruit called a banana colored yellow like a June sun and curved.¨ Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse

Bananas make me think of a lot of things. Home - I was extremely devoted to my mom's dense version, which stood up well to being shipped off to a college-age daughter thousands of miles away (until I started making my own...) Books - the quote above comes from a children's book about a young Jewish girl escaping Nazi Europe (and the moment of her first sublime meeting with bananas). Politics - Ever since reading this NYT oped how the everyday banana is emblematic of long-distance food chains, I have tried to limit my banana intake (just being a general Latinamerican-phile, what with the continent's tortured United Fruit history, adds a whole 'nother dimension). (Note: Smitten Kitchen blogged on just this not too long ago - and with much better pictures!)

But I can't shake the habit of slicing them into my once-a-month bowl of oatmeal, and I adore banana bread. So with a slight sense of guilt offset by the pure joy of that Letters from Rifka quote, I present Banana Bread.

Most quick breads are made with oil, but this one uses melted butter in its place, in addition to yogurt. It's moist, flavorful, and a bit sweeter than some other versions I've tried - and to top it off I usually throw in a handful of dark chocolate chunks. This time I only had a few leftover walnuts rattling around in a plastic container. That's one of the reasons I love making quick breads - they're hardy, versatile little recipes that can take a fair bit of tweaking (and stand up well in altitude baking!).

This recipe originally comes from All Recipes, and can be found here. For a while I was slicing the bananas as directed, but I really think that mashing them allows for a more consistent banana flavor and less gummy chunks in the bread.

While looking up that op-ed, I stumbled across the NYT's topic page on bananas. No, really. It's bananas! Recipes, op-eds on the terrible banana trade, and other goodies galore! NYT, why must you confuse me so?


- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 2 medium bananas, mashed


- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. (I made four small loaves - though I would have been happier with three slightly bigger small loaves, if that makes any sense.)
- In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar.
- Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well.
- Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the butter mixture until smooth.
- Fold in the sour cream, walnuts and bananas. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
- Bake for around 35 minutes (small loaves) or 60 minutes (large loaf pan), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean (best test ever). Cool loaf in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

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