Do you ever wander around the kitchen at night wanting something, not figuring out what it is, and then finally realizing that you’re just looking forward to coffee the next morning? I think that this banana bread is the breakfast to go with that coffee. This is a gentle banana bread, more cakelike than bready, with soft and comforting undertones. If you bake it just right (well, at least in my opinion), the bread surrounding the inevitable crack down the middle will still be a little bit gooey. I can never resist dipping my finger in to grab a little bit of the gooey part before the loaf cools. Don’t tell, although I’m pretty sure I get caught any time anyway.
What I like about this specific banana bread is the use of both butter and yogurt. A lot of banana breads use oil which makes them very moist, but a little greasy and tasteless, in my opinion. The yogurt keeps the moisture factor covered, anyway.
You could always go with variations. I want to try substituting pears for the bananas. I have no idea if it would work, but I plan on giving it a shot. You could add shredded coconut (1/2 C) and swap out the walnuts for macadamia nuts, or add cinnamon and maybe even a tablespoon or so of rum.
adapted from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
makes one 8-inch loaf
- 1 C all-purpose flour
- 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 C brown sugar or evaporated cane juice
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large very ripe bananas (best if they have a lot of black spots)*
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 C whole or low-fat plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 C (2 ounces) walnuts or pecans, toasted
- 1/2 C raisins
1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.
2. Whisk the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, melted butter, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla together. Gently fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined (if it’s a little bit lumpy that’s OK, just don’t overmix it). Fold in the walnuts. The batter should look thick and lumpy.
3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 55 minutes (but check a bit earlier), rotating the pan halfway through baking.
4. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.
*I always find myself with a few bananas that are going black on me. That’s great- I just peel them and throw them in the freezer until I feel like making banana bread. It only takes an hour or so on the counter and they’re ready to go. If you don’t have any super-ripe bananas (either fresh or frozen), America’s Test Kitchen has a great tip: oven-ripening the bananas. Here’s how:
While the oven preheats, throw your yellow bananas (in their skins) on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 15 minutes or so. The skins will turn black but the flesh will get softer and sweeter. One note- this trick won’t work with green bananas, which are too far from ripeness to be useful here.