banana bread fiesta

Seems there’s a lot of banana bread being served in the blogosphere. A quick WordPress search brought me loaves of the traditional, gluten-free, cheater version, tricked out, über-healthy, and even out-of-the-box “loaves” such as muffins and granola (!). Foodforfun’s history with banana bread goes deep as well, with posts on banana flatbread, copy-cat loaf, soynut banana bread, banana chip-studded bread, and the most recent movie-star version. Even blogs not solely dedicated to food feature banana bread as seen in this crazy story of poutine, romance, and peanut butter chocolate-chip banana bread.

WordPress representing only a teeny tiny sliver of the recipe universe, there are most certainly an infinite number of recipes for banana bread. Funny thing, though: we’re always hungry for more. There must be many who, like me, love trying new banana bread recipes and never settle on a favorite. This post, then, is written for you.

Needing to feed my sourdough starter and also having discovered a bag of overripe bananas in my freezer, I could sense a sourdough banana bread in my very near future. Whispers of “chocolate” in my head steered me to google “sourdough chocolate banana bread.” C Mom Cook‘s lovely blog popped up with exactly the recipe I was looking for. Besides subbing in 1/4 cup whole wheat flour for the white, using chopped-up Easter chocolate instead of the chocolate chips, and sprinkling the unbaked loaves with chocolate salt, I stayed true to C Mom’s recipe.

The resulting loaves (I doubled the recipe) were Wows–rich and tangy, not too sweet, plenty of banana. It’s likely not a banana bread for the masses, but rather a loaf for those who like their quick breads on the dense side and very much enjoy sourdough. I’ve moved it to the top of my list of favorite banana breads, but imagine it will be displaced sooner rather than later by a newly discovered recipe for this quick bread classic.

doubling the pleasure of sourdough chocolate banana bread

doubling the pleasure of sourdough chocolate banana bread

even Mickey is sweet on this banana bread

even Mickey is sweet on this banana bread

banana bread pudding–Guatemala 3

It was just last week that I cooked my first Guatemalan food. A friend had asked me to help teach a cooking unit to complement her class service project. Her students had made guacamole as a class a week earlier, but Teacher Traci asked me to do a bit of research and come in with a few recipes that would delve just a bit deeper into Guatemalan fare. Crispy corn tortillas and the accompanying black bean paste have already been covered in this week’s posts. Tonight I finish with my favorite of the recipes we made.

Already a fan of bread pudding, I fell hard for Bocado de Reina. I had only a small sample in class, but have since made it at home and devoured all but one slice. It’s a great way to start the day (banana, bread, eggs–how could it not be a Balanced Breakfast?) and is also sweet enough for dessert. Drizzling it with a bit of (fat-free) half-and-half makes it even dreamier.

One student commented that it tasted like a “super moist bread pudding.” Bingo. That’s exactly what it is. I’ve linked the original source below, though I used more than the two cups of bread called for and passed on the raisins. Also, the original recipe didn’t say if the bananas were mashed or cut up. I always have too-ripe bananas on hand, so mine were mashed. The end result was amazing, so I’ll do the same the next time I make it. The lone piece left in the pan is marked for tomorrow’s breakfast, so I’ll be whipping one up again soon.

crazy-moist banana bread pudding

Bocado de Reina

Translated as “bite of a queen,” it possibly suggests this dish is “food fit for a queen.” Stirring a handful of raisins into the batter is optional.

2 cups crumbled bread (I used nearly double that)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (I used full-fat the first time and fat-free the second–both work well.)
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 bananas, peeled

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch round cake pan. In large bowl, sir together all ingredients. Transfer batter to pan. Bake 45 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

delightful banana bread

I’m relatively new to blogging, so have had only a small taste of what folks are writing about. But I have noticed that banana bread gets a lot of press. Finding recipes for spotted bananas appeals to those who enjoy cooking and/or baking as we love food and are loath to throw it away.

A quick WordPress search for banana bread turned up oodles of recipes. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are blogs out there devoted entirely to this yummy quickbread and all its variations (scones, muffins, cakes, etc). Even in my short blogging life, I’ve written two posts with recipes using overripe bananas.

That said, Delightful Discoveries’ claim of  The Best Banana Bread Ever seemed a bold one. Always looking for an excuse to bake, I felt compelled to give his recipe a whirl. It was a basic banana bread recipe: no stir-ins, no whole wheat flour or other good-for-you grains. Though I prefer whole-grain baked goods, the case can also be made that some foods are best enjoyed in all their white flour, white sugar, egg, and butter glory. (Add sour cream in this case.)

These ingredients absolutely added up to crazy-good banana bread. It was everything this cake-passing-for-health-food should be: tender, sweet, buttery, fragrant. Calling it the definitive “best” would mean making lots of other banana breads and trying them all side-by-side, so we’ll never know. (Though that sounds like a fun project.) But it seemed the perfect loaf–what you’d see under “banana bread” in a dictionary.

My only deviation from the original recipe was to toss in a small package of blackberries that had to be used quickly if I didn’t want to have to toss them. (again, hate to throw out food) It added a fun blast of color and flavor, but the loaf would have been amazing without. It doesn’t need stir-ins or any other addition to shine. It may or not be the “best” (that’s not my call), but I will deem it Perfect.

Perfect Banana Bread à la Delightful Discoveries

with a few blackberries stirred in

grinding the grain

Mother’s Day approaches and we’ll join my parents and brother’s family for a backyard barbecue. Our assignment is to bring burgers and buns. We have great beef that comes from a farmer friend of my husband, so hubby will make the patties. I’m happy to make the burger buns as I very much enjoy baking breads. (You’ve figured this out by now if you’ve read me before.)

The recipe search is always the first step. I found one for Soft Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls from a past issue of Eating Well magazine. “Soft” in the title (first word!) was good as that’s a must for home-baked bread. “Whole wheat” scored another point as I find the texture and flavor of whole-grain breads more interesting than white.

My next step was grinding wheat berries for the whole wheat flour. This may sound a bit Little House on the Prairie-ish, but it’s really not all that crazy. Wheat berries are readily available in bulk at co-ops and natural food stores. They’re also sold packaged in many mainstream grocery stores. And grinding wheat berries means I get to play with another kitchen toy.

I enjoyed my electric grain mill for a number of years, though one day it just stopped working. My next piece of equipment is the one I use today–an attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

It may or may not save money in the end, but I like transforming wheat berries to flour in my own kitchen. It’ll grind any grain into flour and I’ve also used it to make nut flours. (Not as easy as grinding grains as the nuts have more fat and tend to gum up the auger in larger batches.) When I grind flour, I make more than I need and freeze the extra, leaving me with a stash for times when I’m rushed.

The rolls, which I made larger than recommended so they can hold burgers, turned out nicely and will make first-rate partners for our Mother’s Day burgers. Even better, I had fun making these rolls. They allowed me to play in the kitchen, which is always a pleasure.

wheat berries

grinding

into flour!

hamburger buns

split and waiting for a burger

Recipe Note: Per usual, I did not follow the recipe to the letter. No cake flour in the house, so used the standard substitution: 1 cup all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons for each cup of cake flour, plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch to add lightness and make up the lost bulk.

peanut butter, banana, chocolate

Having recently received a large bag of dried banana chips, I wanted to find a use for them outside of eating as-is or tossing with granola. An online search got me thinking about using them for baking. A few recipes included them in banana bread, which intrigued me. Because peanut butter and chocolate seem a good fit with banana, I wanted to build a quick bread that incorporated all three flavors.

Banana chips in banana bread seemed redundant and chocolate bread was more indulgence than I needed. This left me looking for a peanut butter bread recipe. My cookbook collection includes a 1970s-esque Jif Peanut Butter recipe booklet (complete with ’70s-style food photos), which was where I found a simple and delicious peanut butter bread recipe. I tossed a large handful of coarsely chopped dried banana chips and a slightly smaller amount of coarsely chopped chocolate (mix of semisweet and dark) into the batter and was thrilled with the result.

The bread itself is rich and peanutty, but adding chocolate (always a good idea) and banana chips elevated it to another level of yum. The banana flavor is only there when you bite into a chip, but it’s a lovely subtle hit when you do. And the slight chew of these chips–they don’t get squishy like raisins do–adds texture contrast.

I find myself having a slice (or two) for breakfast, munching on it between meals, then considering it a dessert at the end of the day. It needs no embellishment, but a small bit of grape jelly bumps up the sweetness and if I’m really wanting to gild lilies, a touch of butter rounds out the flavor very nicely. It’s been a fun bread to discover and am happy to have found a use for my bag of banana chips.

Peanut Butter Bread with Banana Chips and Chocolate

Based on a recipe found in Jif® Choosy Mothers’ Peanut Butter Cookbook (1979)

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (Jif’s recipe called for creamy, but I used chunky)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried banana chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped chocolate bar

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch loaf pan.

In bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add peanut butter; cut in with fork or two knives until crumbly. Add egg and milk; stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Gently stir in banana chips and chocolate. Pour batter into pan; bake 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted near center of loaf comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

out-of-this-world peanut butter bread

banana bread and the soybean

Back in the late-’90s, I was swimming in soy. Minnesota Soybean, a commodity organization, hired me to help educate folks about the health benefits of soyfoods. I knew very little going in, but after studying the research on soyfood consumption, I was convinced that enjoying whole soyfoods (NOT taking soy pills) in moderation can be healthy. Fast forward to 2012 and soyfoods are found in mainstream grocery stores. Soymilk is frequently sold alongside dairy milk. Tofu hasn’t replaced steak (and I hope it does not), but in part thanks to the emphasis on enjoying the occasional meatless meal, soyfoods have found their way into many kitchens.

Minnesota Soybean came to mind when I was cleaning out my files recently and came across a recipe brochure I had helped put together. The photos were dated, but the card for banana bread caught my eye. I’ve had a large bag of overripe bananas in the freezer for a while and this seemed a good use for them. Other draws included the whole wheat flour and ground flax in the recipe–this banana bread would be whole-grain and healthy. Crushed soynuts were also stirred into the batter, upping the nutrition and adding taste and texture.

I made the banana bread a few days later and it was indeed delicious. Sweet, rich, and nutty, it’s great toasted and spread with butter for breakfast. A slice makes a filling late-morning snack. Tonight, I spread it with cream cheese and date jam and called it dessert. My girls are iffy on it, but my husband thinks it’s grand. Anyone looking to add whole grains or soy to their diet–or anyone who likes banana bread–should give this recipe a spin.

Banana bread with soynuts

Flax Banana Bread

This recipes makes two loaves–I cut ingredient amounts in half and made one.

  • 1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon vinegar plus enough milk to make 1/3 cup–let it stand 5 minutes before using)
  • 6 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2/3 cup crushed soynuts + extra for sprinkling

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 (9-inch) loaf pans.

In large bowl, stir together flours, flax, baking soda and salt. In separate bowl, beat together butter, applesauce, sugars, eggs and buttermilk with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in bananas. Add mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just enough to blend. Stir in 2/3 cup soynuts. Divide batter between pans. Sprinkle tops of each loaf with additional crushed soynuts. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until knife inserted into center of each loaf comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.