Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ultimate banana bread

At least once a week, my husband asks me, "Why aren't we in Hawaii right now?" And my usual answer is that we have a 4-year old so travel to our favorite islands is a bit difficult at the moment. Then the conversation usually turns to food - malasadas, ahi tuna poke, Dole Whip, laulau, and other Hawaiian specialties.

Banana bread is also on the list. When we talk about banana bread, there is one place that is essentially the Holy Grail of banana breads. It's a little stand on the side of the road on the Road to Hana (on Maui). The little shack is located near the beginning of the trek to Hana, and the banana bread is out of this world. It is super moist, loaded with bananas and spices and best of all... contains NO NUTS!

I haven't been able to recreate that bread yet, but I saw this recipe at my mother in-law's. She subscribes to the All Recipes magazine, and this recipe caught my eye. It was called "Banana Banana Bread" and includes 2 and 1/3 cups of bananas. Wow.

This ultimate banana bread was loaded with banana flavor. It was thick, dense and moist like a banana bread should be.  The crust was slightly crispy and nicely contrasted the soft and chewy interior. Next time, I would increase the amount of cinnamon and add some nutmeg so it has more spice. I bet other add-ins like blueberries, raisins and dried cranberries would work really well too. Although the banana bread in Maui is still our favorite by far, this one comes in a close 2nd.

Ultimate banana bread
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (if you are using salted butter, omit the salt from above)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 and 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (I needed about 6 medium-sized bananas)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside (I used a silicone loaf pan and did not grease it).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and the brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well. (Alternatively, you can mix all this together by hand if you don't want to dirty a mixer.)

Add the banana mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Gently fold in the bananas. Do not over mix.

Transfer to your prepared loaf pan and bake in your preheated oven for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Bread should be stored at room temperature in an airtight container and will keep for several days. It can also be frozen and thawed. The bread is supposed to taste excellent toasted (don't forget to add Nutella!).

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf (about 10-12 slices)

Source: Ever so slightly adapted from All Recipes magazine, Dec 2013/Jan 2014 issue

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