Banana Bread: What I Do with Brown Bananas

17 Aug

First of all, I want to apologize in advance for the truly mediocre pictures on this post. I used my iPhone rather than my actual camera out of sheer laziness for all but the above photo. It felt like a lot of work to make banana bread, so I didn’t feel like being artsy as well. Moving on. When eating bananas, I personally like them a little on the starchy side. Just before they start to get brown spots is pretty perfect. However, once bananas (preferably three bananas) start to get a little too brown, I  just let ’em get full-on brown until they look a little disgusting. Why? Because then it’s banana bread time. The really brown bananas are perfect because they’re very sweet at this point and also have a nice mushy texture — perfect for baking.

This is a recipe that actually comes from my childhood and from my mom’s personal cookbook (and I think originally from a recipe by Domino sugar). So you should count yourselves lucky that I’m sharing because it’s amazing. You will need:

  • 1 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (2 to 3) mashed ripe bananas
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

First, preheat your oven to 350° F. I like to measure out all my ingredients for this recipe beforehand. It just makes things simpler because this is one of those add-this-then-this-then-a-little-of-this recipes. The first step, which has already been done in the picture above, is to sift together the flour, baking soda (note: NOT baking powder), and salt.

Now cream together the shortening and brown sugar until they’re well incorporated. Is it weird to eat brown sugar on its own? I don’t think so, and my mom doesn’t think so, but she seemed to think that others might find us odd. I mean, it’s pretty delicious. Don’t judge until you try it! And then wash your hands before returning to the recipe.

Once the shortening and brown sugar are mixed together, add the bananas and eggs, and mix again until it’s creamy. I decided to use a hand mixer for this recipe, but a stand mixer is obviously fine. I just didn’t feel like dragging it out from under the counter. Again, I’m lazy today. Once you’ve incorporated the bananas and eggs, add the flour mixture and milk in alternating phases. Beat each addition until smooth before adding more. I do about a quarter of the flour at a time, then a quarter of the milk, and so on until it’s all incorporated.

Finally, it’s time to add the chopped walnuts. Just fold them in with a rubber scraper so as not to pulverize the nuts too much. And it is complete. On a side note, I never buy pre-chopped walnuts. I don’t think they keep as well, and it seems like a waste of money. Instead, there’s always a jar of whole walnuts in the freezer waiting to be freshly chopped for recipes such as this. Why the freezer? Because it keeps them fresh for about a year. This is total Mom wisdom right here. Just accept it as absolute truth.

Pour the batter into two greased 9-inch loaf pans, and bake at 350° F for an 1 hour and 5 minutes. It might take less time, so keep an eye on it. Mine only took about 50 minutes this time. You can also use mini-muffin pans for bite-size banana breads, but I can’t give you a definite time frame for those. I know that it works, but it’s always experimental.

Once the loaves are finished, take them out of the oven and let them rest in the pans on their sides to loosen. Leaving them in the pan to cool prevents the bread from sticking to the sides of the pan and ruining your day. After they’re cool, remove from the pans and place on a rack to cool completely. Slice a couple pieces, and spread some butter on them for instant gratification. Now store the rest wrapped in foil, and don’t let it mold. It can be stored in the freezer, but it generally doesn’t last that long in this house.

For a convenient and easy-to-follow recipe without pictures and storytelling, see below.

Banana Bread

  • 1 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (2 to 3) mashed ripe bananas
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

Sift flour, soda and salt together. Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly. Add eggs and bananas, beating until light. Alternately add flour mixture and milk. Beat after each addition until smooth. Add nuts. Pour batter into two greased 9-inch loaf pans. Bake in oven 350 degrees 1 hour 5 minutes or until done. Cool on rack in pan turned on its side. Wrap in foil to store.

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