Sunday, May 15, 2011

Is there a perfect banana bread?

Is there a perfect banana bread?  Like millions of others, I can't resist a good one.  I can't even resist a mediocre one.  For years, my go-to banana bread recipe has been from my daughter Debbie.  It's decadently rich even when you don't add a lot of chocolate chips.  Recently, though, I started experimenting with other recipes.  The net result of this exercise stunned me.  I can't believe it myself, but I learned I actually prefer banana bread without chocolate chips!  I'm still having a rough time comprehending that my palate, conditioned after years of chocolate indulgence, wants a chocolate-free banana bread.  It comes down to this--the taste of really good banana bread is a joy onto itself.  It simply doesn't need the chocolate. 

Perhaps you don't believe me.  If so, I suggest that you make two breads, one with and the other without chocolate chips.  That persuaded me.  It may change your mind, too.

Herewith are two outstanding banana bread recipes.  They're very bananaish, moist, toothsome.  They freeze beautifully.  A good cup of tea or coffee goes beautifully.

The first is daughter Debbie's.  It's huge and rich and full of bananas (and chips).  It freezes well, and children of all ages love it.

4 c bananas (approx 6 bananas)
3 c flour
2½ c sugar
1¼ c veg oil
4 eggs
1 T vanilla
1 t salt
1½ t baking soda
½ t baking powder
1 – 1 ½ c choc chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a long loaf pan (pullman).

Mix flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder together and set aside.

In food processor, mix bananas, eggs, vanilla and veg oil together until smooth.

Whisk banana mixture into dry ingredients and mix well.

Transfer mixture to loaf pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until done.

Can also be made into muffins.

Sour Cream Banana Bread (

Makes: 1 (9-inch) loaf

Butter, for coating the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon fine salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 very ripe medium bananas, mashed about 1¼ cups
½ cup sour cream

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter
and dust it with flour, tapping out the excess. Whisk together the measured flour, baking powder,
salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl to aerate and break up any lumps. Set aside.
Place the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle
attachment and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Add the bananas and
sour cream and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the flour mixture,
and mix until just combined.

Turn the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center
comes out clean, the top is golden brown, and the bread is pulling away from the sides of the pan,
about 1 hour.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Slide a knife around the perimeter of the pan,
invert to release the bread, and cool completely on the wire rack before serving.  This is the one I've been making of late, the one that persuaded me not to add chocolate chips.

But I can't help but looking at banana bread recipes, and when I came across this one, I knew I'd have to make it soonest.  I haven't yet, but doesn't it look interesting?

Coffee and Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 packet Starbucks Via, or 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 medium bananas, mashed (approx 1 cup)
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease two two 5×3-inch loaf pans (or use disposable foil pans).

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, Via or instant espresso, sugar and brown sugar.

In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, vegetable oil, buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract until smooth and well-combined. Pour into dry ingredients and stir only until no streaks of flour remain. Add in chocolate chips and stir to evenly distribute.

Divide evenly into prepared pans. Place pans in a baking sheet.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool in pans on a wire rack.

Makes 2 mini loaves

Note: This bread can be baked in a 9×5-inch loaf pan, increasing the baking time to about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Happy baking!

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