Banana Bread

I have been making, and perfecting, this recipe for close to 15 years. It’s really, really good, everyone says so, and comes out perfect every time. As long as you follow my little tips , and get to know your oven. The basis for my recipe is from Ethan Becker’s 1997 re-issue of his mother’s iconic “Joy of Cooking”. With my tweaks and improvements, it is still the best of over a dozen other recipes I have tried. Although this is called a bread, it is quite sweet, and perfect for breakfast with tea or coffee. Enjoy!

Tip #1 – do not over mix the batter. Where the instructions say “just until combined” be sure to do just that
Tip #2 – use the ripest possible bananas, they can’t be too ripe. The riper the bananas, the sweeter and moister the finished bread. And do not use pre-frozen bananas – they get too watery and will make the finished bread too wet
Tip #3 –  Follow the order of mixing and adding ingredients exactly. It does make a difference to the finished texture
Tip #4 – As simple as the process and the instructions are, the little things do matter. Such as pre-toasting the walnuts, and using the exact quantities of ingredients. Always level the dry ingredients in your measuring cups and spoons, and use dry measure, not wet measure cups (as a rule, glass or clear measuring cups are for liquids, metal or plastic measuring cups are for dry ingredients. Spoons are for either)
Tip #5 – When toasting walnuts, be careful they are not overdone. In a 175 C oven, spread whole walnuts in one layer on a baking tray, then toast until they are fragrant and shiny. As soon as the kitchen begins to fill with the smell, get them out of the oven. Then break, or chop them into small pieces
Tip #6 – If you have the option on your oven, do NOT use the fan/convection setting. Use “Classic Bake” or non fan operated function only

Begin with all ingredients at room temperature.  Position a rack in the center of the oven and set to 175 C. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch (215 x 115 mm or close to)  loaf pan with butter and set aside.

1 1/2 cups high grade flour (not self-rising)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

80 g unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar

2 large (#7) eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large, or 3 small, ripe bananas
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, mix together and set aside
2. In a separate bowl, mash bananas until there are no visible lumps, add walnuts on top and set aside
3. In a small bowl, very lightly beat the eggs,  mix in the vanilla and set aside

4.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until lightened in colour and texture (a stand mixer works best, but a hand mixer, or beating by hand will work just as well)
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until well combined and grainy
6. Gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla until just combined, do not over mix
7. Fold in the bananas and walnuts until just combined, do not over mix

8. Scrape the batter into the pan, spreading the top so that it is flat and even
9. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes. It is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top will rise and split, this is normal

Let cool on a rack, in the pan, for 10 minutes. Then shake out of the pan, turn right side up, and allow to cool completely on the rack. All baked goods are best on the first day, but tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature, this bread will last well for 3 – 4 days.