My relationship with bananas is a long and complicated one. I spent my childhood steadfastly convinced that I hated them. Who likes bananas anyway? Or, worse, banana-flavored foods?
Well, apparently I do. I would even go so far as to say that I love bananas now that I have matured and gained the worldly knowledge of how to best enjoy these potassium-rich fruits. For me, bananas need to still be green to be edible. I don’t much like sweet fruits, so spotted bananas are a no-go.
Unfortunately, the bananas I bought to survive the long fortnight without campus dining that is spring break went what some people call “ripe” and what I like to call “gooey, disgusting, fermented starch” significantly earlier than I expected.
There was nothing to do. They had to go. I couldn’t leave them stinking up my suite like that, but I hate wasting food, and I was left conflicted. So, I decided to make the best of the smelly situation by making banana bread. I left those bananas until they were nigh on black and the entire suite stank of fermentation. I was only able to survive the sugary reek for that long because I had the promise of significantly less gross banana bread at the end of it.
A central conflict in my relationship with bananas and banana-flavored foods is that I love green bananas, but hate desserts made with underripe bananas, which means if I want to get banana bread/muffins/cupcakes/pudding/whatever, I have to put up with the horror that is overripe bananas. I must say, in this case, the decision to live in banana stench for days was certainly worth it for the resulting delicious banana bread.
Since it has been ages since I last made a quick bread, as opposed to the yeast breads I normally make, I was a bit concerned about how this one would come out, especially since some last-second substitutions ended up being necessary.
Here’s a tip that should be self evident: Don’t assume you have baking soda in your pantry just because you always have baking soda in the pantry. Fortunately, baking powder in triple the amount can make an acceptable substitute.
Although it is practically sacrilegious to eat banana bread directly out of the oven, that is exactly what my friends and I did. Traditionally, quick breads are said to taste best after a day’s wait, but this banana bread was too tempting not to eat as soon as it was almost cool enough to eat. I do not regret burning my mouth on hot, crumbly banana bread in the least.
In the end, only one meager slice made it to the next day, and some random person in the elevator definitely eyed it hungrily on the way up from the kitchen. Bread this delicious practically needs bodyguards if the people intended to enjoy them want to actually get a taste.
One change I would make the next time I bake this bread, and there will surely be a next time, is to add a streusel topping and toss in some walnuts. Since I was running on a limited pantry at the end of break, I was out of the necessary ingredients to make this bread almost perfect. Plain banana bread has its charm, but breaking up the flavor with nuts and brown sugar can make all the difference when it comes to enjoyable breakfast bread experiences.
Deliciousness of this particular bread aside, some nice thing about quick breads in general is that they are easy to convert to muffins or smaller loaves, and they store much better than yeast breads. When properly wrapped and frozen, whole loaves can last months in the freezer, and muffins up to a month. There is something undeniably special about warm, soft fruit-based breads straight from the oven. Lately I have been on a hardcore yeast bread kick, but I can see this banana bread serving as a reminder not to forget about quick breads too—forgive me—quickly.
3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanill
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last; mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.