I love banana’s. Really truly absolutely adore them. So finding the perfect recipe for banana bread has been a huge goal of mine lately. Between Noah and I, we can eat through a bunch of banana’s in two days flat. Plus the kid will eat them even when they start turning a bit….which is something I absolutely refuse to do. If it’s got brown spots on it….it’s ready for a smoothie or banana bread in my book.
So since this little squirt has joined the banana eating ranks it has been a rare occurrence that we end up with bad bananas. But it does happen occasionally and usually I stockpile them away in the freezer until I get enough for some bread. But this week when we picked up our compost bag from the grocery store next door there were two large bunches of rapidly browning bananas.
Half got thrown into the freezer immediately and the other half lingered for a day on the counter top while I built up some baking energy. I knew exactly what I was going to make……I had bookmarked Faith at An Edible Mosaic’s Best Banana Bread recipe a while back and had been itching to make it. (Be sure to check out her post on it, her photographs are amazing!)
I had even pulled out my trusty bag of frozen brown banana’s and taken them with us on our vacation to Florida only to get too tired/sick to actually make it. Which means they sat in my crisper making a mess for a week and then depressingly got thrown out. So when I got this batch I was quite determined to actually get these banana’s into some bread.
I have a major love/hate relationship with banana bread it turns out. I love it when someone else makes good banana bread and I get to eat it. But I hate bad banana bread…..banana bread that’s too sticky, too dry, too sweet. Which has in turn passed on a dislike for making banana bread because it NEVER turns out right.
It’s always too dry and gross or it’s too gooey and uncooked in the middle. But Faith had strong praises for this recipe and shares my opinion that (almost always) zucchini bread wins out over banana bread so…. I decided to put my past failures behind me and once again give it a go. Turns out she wasn’t lying, it really is the best banana bread recipe ever.
I am happy to say that this bread turned out perfect! It was moist all the way through yet the whole thing was cooked! Not too sweet….just right. I cranked up the spices in her recipe a smidge since I can’t bake and not throw nutmeg and cloves in everything, and swapped in some brown sugar because…..I don’t know, brown sugar and banana’s just sounded right.
Her suggestion for vanilla bean paste sounds phenomenal but finding that in our little town is not gonna happen so I settled for a bit more liberal vanilla extract. Browning the butter lends a perfect flavor that really makes this bread pop!
I totally forgot I wanted to make this a banana nut bread and spaced putting the nuts in until after I had already put the loaf in the oven. So I quickly ran around the kitchen looking for some and discovered the last little bit of Melanie’s candied nuts. After smashing them quickly I dumped the entire little bag over the top of the bread, extra course salt and all. Turns out that was a really really good idea. It makes the top of the bread crunchy and sweet and salty all in the perfect ways.
- 6 cups water
- 4 cups nuts (that have not already been roasted…walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts…maybe pine nuts ?)
- ½ cup sugar
- salad oil (I use olive oil)
- ABOUT 1 ½ HOURS BEFORE SERVING OR UP TO 2 WEEKS AHEAD:
- In 4-quart saucepan over high heat, heat water to boiling; add nuts and heat to boiling; cook 1 minute. Rinse nuts under running hot water; drain.
- In large bowl with rubber spatula, gently stir warm nuts with sugar until sugar is dissolved. (If necessary, let mixture stand 5 minutes to dissolve sugar.)
- Meanwhile, in fry pan over medium heat, heat about 1 inch salad oil to 350 F. on deep-fat thermometer (or heat oil according to manufacturer’s direction in deep-fat fryer set at 350 F.) With slotted spoon, add about half of nuts to oil; fry 5 minutes or until golden, stirring often.
- With slotted spoon, place walnuts in coarse sieve over bowl to drain; sprinkle very lightly with salt( or another fun seasoning you might like to try); toss lightly to keep nuts from sticking together. Transfer to paper towels to cool. ( I find that nuts sometimes stick to paper towels, I use butcher paper to allow oil to drain off while cooling). Fry remaining nuts. Store in tightly covered container.
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup butter, softened and browned
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
- ⅓ cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 14/-1/2 cup candied nuts (recipe below)
- Cooking spray or grease for pan
- Preheat oven to 350F. Brown the butter by slowly heating over medium heat until color begins to change and begins to become fragrant.
- Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer (or wooden spoon) at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the banana, yogurt, vanilla extract; beat until blended.
- Add spices and baking soda; stir to incorporate throughout.
- Add flour, stir only until incorporated thoroughly.
- Spoon batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray or well greased with shortening.
- Top with crushed candied nuts ensuring plenty of course salt and sugar bits are included.
- Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.