Monday, August 22, 2011

A bread that needs no introduction.

Banana bread is a classic. We have all had it and, except for those banana haters out there (hi, Mom!), we love its sweet aroma and moist crumb. I should probably leave it at that and just give you the recipe, but I won't because, as my friends and family know, I'm a bit verbose.

I have been yearning for something banana for some time. However, every time I went to the store, bananas completely slipped my mind and I found myself daydreaming of bananas again mid-week. So, when Jared bought bananas I watched and waited, hoping they would become too ripe for him to eat. Unfortunately for him but luckily for me, they ripened quite quickly and I ended up with 3 very ripe bananas.

With bananas in hand (or in the fridge, as it were) I set about making banana bread. Since my family doesn't have a tried-and-true recipe for banana bread, I often use a different one every time. This particular bread comes from Beard on Bread by James Beard that I purchased some time ago. A few things intrigued me about it:

1. For the book's previous owner, this was clearly a beloved recipe with notes in the margin about swapping in whole wheat flour and the flavor of the cake.

2. James Beard suggests almonds instead of the classic walnuts. I obliged and it's new and great. Also, Jared is not a walnut fan, so anyone else who does not love their bitterness might give this a go.

3. Mr. Beard suggests using this bread for sandwiches, calling it "extraordinarily good" for this purpose. I must try this while there's still some bread left, although I wish he had suggested a suitable sandwich.

Banana Nut Bread
Adapted from Beard on Bread by James Beard

Note: I sprinkled raw sugar on top because I cannot help myself, but it would be delicious without. Also, you can swap the almonds for any other nut. Finally, the recommended pan is 12 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 but I don't have a pan of that size so I used a standard loaf pan.

Makes 1 loaf

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 large eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a standard loaf pan. Cream the butter with a hand mixer until light. Add the sugar and honey and beat the mixture until creamy and light. One at a time, add the eggs beating incorporating each thoroughly. Mix in the bananas until fully incorporated. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the banana mixture, beating just until combined. Fold in the nuts.

2. Pour the batter into the butter loaf pan. If you like, sprinkle the top with a few tablespoons of turbinado sugar. Bake the loaf for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, checking for doneness near the end. When a cake tester comes out clean, it's finished. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out on a rack to cool completely.

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