What to do with bananas going ripe?
Banana bread is one of my favorite things to eat when I’m hungry or when I’m needing a little pick-me-up during the afternoons. I guess as a lover of all things banana, I just enjoy the goodness of the banana flavors and the comforting bite of the tender and moist bread. To me, I’ve always thought that banana bread isn’t really a bread at all, it’s more of a cake (just like the Dutch apple cake that we posted recently). Can anyone tell me why they’re called breads?
And of course, when you add walnuts to the mix, that just adds another layer of texture to it. I almost always add more nuts to my batter than what is called for. For some reason, walnuts just go really well with bananas. I read somewhere that toasting the nuts also prevents the nuts from turning black in the baked goods. So, I toast the walnuts before adding them in to the batter.
Now, most recipes that I’ve seen out there call for just a little butter and a small quantity of ripe bananas. But I just can’t resist adding more butter and really upping the quantity of ripe bananas. Maybe that’s why my banana bread turns out to have a more cake-like texture. Whatever it is, I have found that upping these ingredients don’t seem to affect the bread too much and it’s still wonderfully moist and delicious. The extra bananas seem to help to perfume the bread with that heady banana fragrance that makes you want to snatch it out of the oven as it is baking up!
The one key thing to any banana recipe (except banana cream pie where you want the bananas nice and pretty looking) is that you really, really need to wait till your bananas are overripe. Being in Malaysia, this happens more quickly than you think. I find that after just two days, my fresh bananas have become super ripe so I’ve been baking banana bread more often than I’d like. Thankfully, I have friends and neighbors to share this with. If you haven’t gotten a banana bread from me, never fear, you probably will in no time at all (as long as you live close by).
If you find yourself overrun with ripe bananas and cannot keep up, another trick is to peel the bananas, stick them in a freezer bag and freeze them. Then the next time you feel like baking banana bread, you won’t have to wait for your bananas to ripen. Just thaw the bag and mash the bananas and you’re good to go.
Alright, so here is my recipe for banana bread. Do give it a try the next time you have loads of overripe bananas sitting on your kitchen counter! Or if you just love banana bread, buy some bananas and let them get ripe on the counter (or try bargaining with your grocery store manager for the bananas that are already overripe in the store!).
Banana Nut Bread Recipe
2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup (8 oz) butter
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (really, I find it’s ok to have a bit more or less, I just tend to eyeball depending on how many ripe bananas I have)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or other nuts), more if you like it nuttier
1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
2. Cream sugar and butter till well mixed.
3. Add eggs and bananas. Blend well.
4. Add milk and vanilla essence and mix till well incorporated.
5. Stir in nuts and dry ingredients (you can sift the dry ingredients if you want but I normally don’t bother) and mix well.
6. Pour into loaf pan and bake for about 60-70 minutes till tester comes out clean. One trick I do is to use two slightly smaller loaf pans and bake up thinner loaves when I’m in a hurry (ie. can’t wait to take a bite into the warm, yummy bread). This way, the baking time will only be about 30-40 minutes.