Sunday, January 20, 2013

Banana Bread

It's all of 10 degrees outside today, including the windchill it's actually -4.  I really don't mind the cold.  It gives me an opportunity to hunker down inside all weekend and practice being a recluse.  And what do I do while I'm inside being all nice and snug?  Bake of course!  And what is better than banana bread to warm up the house and your soul?

Please note, this recipe makes 2 loaves.  You could easily cut in half and make just one loaf.  However, if your family is anything like mine - both loaves will disappear rather quickly.

And a few words about bananas:  you'll notice that in my photos that my bananas are disgustingly brown.  That's because they were previously frozen.  Whenever we have bananas around the house that are beginning to brown, I throw them into the freezer for future use in baked goods.  The skin will turn almost instantly brown while inside the freezer.  To use, pull them out and let thaw for about an hour.  They'll be nice and soft.  You won't be able to peel them, but cut off one end and squeeze out the banana-goo.  Disgusting, but delicious for banana bread :)

Let's get this show on the road.  Mama is hungry for some deliciously, decadent and wonderful banana bread!

Here are the usual suspects:  mashed bananas, sugar (brown and white), butter, vanilla, eggs, flour, soda, salt, milk and vinegar. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Let's start by adding both the sugars and the butter to the mixing bowl.

I'm a big advocate of using brown sugar in banana bread.  It adds a little richness to it . . .it's like the secret ingredient that makes people wonder why your banana bread is better than their banana bread.  It makes it almost caramelly.  Anywho, cream it all together until it's one big mass of sweet, sweet, literally sweet butter.

And don't forget to get all jealous about my mixer.  I love it and I love the flames.  Have you met my mixer yet?  Her name in Pinky.  Original, I know.  She is one bad mama though!

Next, add the vanilla. . . .  speaking of which, do you subscribe to the notion of a cap full of vanilla is all you need? That's what my mama taught me.  Not sure if it falls under the category of being an Old Wive's Tale or if my mama was just being frugal.  Regardless, I'm going with it.

Next, you'll need to add in the mashed banana.  

And then the eggs.  We recently bought a 3 dozen box of eggs (for frugality reasons).  My hubby was concerned that they might go bad before we consume them all . . .yeah, right.  Is that a challenge?  In the past 5 days - I've used 17 of them.  No, it will not be a problem to consume them within the next two weeks.

Mix together until just combined.

For the next step, you'll want to measure out your flour, soda and salt into a bowl and combine.

Now, you'll want to measure out your milk and add the vinegar to the milk.  Give it a quick stir and you will see that it will instantly react and begin to thicken.

Now here is likely the trickiest part.  Your mixing bowl is likely getting pretty full.  But that's okay . . .it still has more room in it.  You'll need to add the flour mixture and soured milk alternately.  Twice.  So, add half the flour mix.   

 . . . .and mix on low until just combined.  Then add half the sour milk and mix on low until just combined.

After adding the first round of flour and then milk, be sure to scrape your bowl so that all is being combined.  Lather, rinse, repeat . . .I mean, add the remaining flour and mix and then the remaining milk and mix.  Remember, you do not want to over mix - this is a quick bread and we don't want big mountainous peaks on our loaves.

Let that rest for a minute and take this time to prepare your two loaf pans.  Grease them generously so that you'll have no problems later on when you need to remove these lovely loaves.  Once prepared, divide the batter evenly among them.  

Oh, wait . . .what's this I see?  

Oh did you hear that?  That little muffled voice saying, "I love banana bread . . .pick me!  Pick me!"  Clearly, that had to be coming from this bag of chocolate chunks.  Good thing I didn't fill my pans yet with the batter.

Instead, I think I'll fill one loaf pan with half the batter (approximately 3-1/2 to 4 cups of batter).  And then stir in these noisy and persuasive chunks of chocolate into the remaining batter.

Except for these two.  They were naughty and weren't playing nicely with the others.  Whatever shall I do with them?  (ahem)  Quality Check!

Now, because I can - and I have this nifty pan, I've decided to split this batter up into mini loaves.  So, you'll see that I'm actually going to bake 1 full sized loaf (no chocolate)  and 4 mini loaves (all with chocolate).

Bake the mini loaves for an hour.  When a toothpick inserted comes out clean and tops are spongy and a little cracked as well as the sides are beginning to pull away - that when they are done.  For a full sized loaf, it will take about 1 and 1/2 hours to bake.

And then you have to wait for them to cool.  Or at least wait until they've cooled enough to handle . ..and then slice and enjoy while still warm.

Banana Bread
1 and 1/2 Cups Butter
3 Cups Mashed Ripe Bananas (about 8 bananas)
1 and 1/2 Cups Brown Sugar
1 and 1/2 Cups White Sugar
4 Eggs
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
4 Cups Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Cup Milk
4 Teaspoons White Vinegar

Cream the butter and sugars together.  Add the mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla.  Stir until well combined.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, soda and salt.  In another bowl, combine the vinegar and milk - stir and you will see it thicken immediately.  Now, add half the flour mixture to the banana batter.  Stir until well combined.  Add half the milk mixture and stir well.   Repeat until all the flour and milk are mixed into the batter.  Do not over mix.  Always stir just enough to get everything combined.

Divide the batter between two well greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour to 1 and 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, the top is slightly cracked and the sides are pulling away from the pan.  Cool completely to remove from the pan.

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