Sunday, October 18, 2009
First I'd like to thank everyone who participated in my very first giveaway. It was really fun reading about your favorite things about Halloween! So much fun, in fact, that I wanted to spread the cupcake joy even more than I'd planned. I'm happy to announce that the 2 winners (chosen randomly) of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World are Joanne (comment #2) and Snulfers (comment #26). I'll be emailing you both shortly - congrats! For the rest of you, stayed tuned 'cause I'll be giving away more stuff for sure.
Now with the gray wet weather currently blanketing the D.C. area, this just felt like the right time to share my simple and beloved recipe for classic banana bread. Though I wrote earlier about a delightful twist on banana bread that added coconut, citrus, and rum flavors, today's recipe is the one I return to time after time for it's unbeatable moist texture and pure banana flavor. The simplicity of one-bowl mixing can't be beat. Plus the recipe is so flexible that I've made many versions with different nuts, chocolates, flavorings, and grains.
All this playing around took place in my last year of college, when I regularly made this bread for my friends. One in particular, Sasha, would always get adorably excited when presented with a slice (or 2 ^_^). That was years ago and despite the fact that she's since moved out of the U.S., we've all stayed friends. When I learned earlier this week that Sasha would be in town, I immediately pulled out this recipe. As I'd hoped she still loved the bread, and we had a wonderful weekend catching up with college friends.
I've recently grown conscious that each passing year scatters our group further apart across the country and the globe. But it's comforting to know that the bonds of friendship remain. And with this recipe carefully stowed away, I'll always know just the thing to bring to our reunions.
Sasha's Favorite Banana Bread [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Recipezaar
Makes 2 loaves or 1 bundt cake
XIAOLU'S NOTES: If your bananas aren't quite black, you can microwave the peeled bananas for 1 to 2 minutes to soften. You can omit the oats and cornmeal and use all 2 1/4 cups of flour but I like them for textural contrast. Pecans or other nuts (1/2 to 1 cup lighted toasted and coarsely chopped) would also be great additions.
4 to 5 very ripe (black) medium to large bananas
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch or 2 of ground cloves
1 tsp instant coffee or espresso powder, broken down by rubbing between your fingertips
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup regular rolled oats
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (You can omit this and 3/4 cup of oil)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup low-fat yogurt or buttermilk
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray 2 loaf pans or a 10-cup Bundt pan (I used my silicone pan).
In a large bowl, mash bananas with a masher or by well-washed hands (I always use my hands - so fun!). Add in all the ingredients EXCEPT for the flour and chocolate chips and mix them in by hand. Add in the flour and mix until well combined but do NOT overmix. Pour half of the batter into the loaf pans or Bundt pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly across the top. Add the remaining batter to the pan(s).
Bake for 50 to 70 minutes, or until toothpick comes out ALMOST but not totally free of crumbs. Let cool 15 minutes after removing from oven, then remove from pan(s). Or for any you don’t plan on eating within a few days, let cool, cover with foil, slide into freezer bags and freeze.