Hungry tummies go nuts for banana bread

Convectional Wisdom

BROWNED TO PERFECTION—Making banana bread is an easy and delicious way to use up overripe bananas. Courtesy of Darleen Principe

BROWNED TO PERFECTION—Making banana bread is an easy and delicious way to use up overripe bananas. Courtesy of Darleen Principe

Homemade banana bread is one of those things that’s always great to have in the house. It’s good for breakfast or for an afternoon snack, or to lay out on the table with coffee for guests.

It’s also one of the easiest things to make; the one-bowl batter consists of basic ingredients that can be thrown together in less than 10 minutes. And although it takes about an hour to bake, it will fill your house with the most soul-warming aroma—definitely the best time to invite some friends over!

Banana bread is considered a quick bread, which means it doesn’t need to proof (or rise) with yeast. It also isn’t leavened with eggs, like a soufflé. Instead, baking soda or baking powder are the leavening agents for quick breads, which include muffins, scones and biscuits. Most cakes and cookies are also technically quick breads, because they can go into the oven immediately after being mixed.

But in my opinion, no other baked good provides a better level of instant gratification for a home baker than banana bread, precisely because of its simplicity. The best time to make it is when you have a few bananas that have become soft and overripe. I like to push the bananas to the point where they are dark and ugly on the outside; they make for the tastiest transformation.

 

Of course, having a moist banana bread is a must. “It’s too dry” is probably the most common reason I’ve heard from people who say they don’t like banana bread. But that probably means the piece they tried was from a bad recipe or was way overbaked.

In any case, I would challenge anybody to try this recipe. It’s adapted from one I received a few years ago, when I was a student at New School of Cooking in Culver City, and a warm slice has converted more than a few banana bread haters into banana bread lovers.

Feel free to substitute the chocolate chips with chopped walnuts, or omit them altogether if you want it plain. It’s delicious either way!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Yield: one 9-inch loaf
3 ripe bananas
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with oil or baking spray, and set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas and whisk in the eggs. Add the oil and vanilla extract, and mix well.

Add the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt, and whisk together gently until everything comes together into a thick, glossy batter. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Let the bread cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Principe is a home baker, freelance journalist and former Acorn editor who lives in Simi Valley. Reach her at dar. principe@gmail.com.