Friday, July 11, 2008

Banana Bread

In my junior year of college I took my one and only creative writing class. It was one of the best classes I took. The teacher was wonderful, creating a comfortable atmosphere for sharing and critiquing work, and I produced some writing that I was really proud of and got to read some wonderful stuff by my classmates. The classmates were another thing I loved about the experience and I felt like we all connected as a whole. My favorite classmate was someone named Sabrina. She had wild and curly blond hair and lots of green clothing. We often partnered up to trade writing and ended up becoming friends. My masterpiece story was about a young woman who falls in love with her toaster oven, which Sabrina loved because, like me, she loved food. The first time we got together outside of class we cooked. She made me her special roasted vegetables and we baked this delicious banana bread that has been my ultimate go to banana bread recipe for four years now.

The original recipe was from a Cooking Light cookbook, I think. I have stuck pretty closely to the original recipe, but pared it down some. I don't always want nuts and chocolate swirls in my banana bread. With banana bread I think the simpler, the better. This banana bread is dense and flavorful without being as heavy and cake-like as most quick bread recipes. Yogurt replaces some of the butter and it doesn't call for any oil (I hate using vegetable oil in recipes). It is a bit heavy on the sugar, but could be much worse. I always use whole wheat pastry flour to make this a whole grain bread, with great end results.

Now, I know it sounds fairly crazy asking you to turn on the oven in this heat. But it's worth it, I promise. I've eaten this loaf mostly for breakfast, toasted, with a bit of butter or homemade apricot jam. And I think that it's cool enough at 7:15am to justify eating a slice of warm, buttery bread for breakfast.

For this go round, I was actually (shockingly, momentarily) out of my beloved whole wheat pastry flour. But I didn't want to go to the store, so I subbed in a combo of amaranth, all purpose, and mesquite flour. It was fine, but I much prefer the whole wheat version. The mesquite flour was overpowering and there wasn't enough banana flavor shining through. Plus, it darkened the bread considerably, making for a less gorgeous bread photo. Don't be like me--use whole wheat pastry flour.

Banana Bread
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 overripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1/3 cup plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a bread pan.

Combine flour, salt, and soda in one bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar, then add banana, eggs, and yogurt, and mix well. Add dry mixture to wet mixture. At this point you can add any nuts or spices that you like.

Bake for an hour and fifteen minutes or so, until a knife inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

No comments: