27 August 2010 § 2 Comments
As a child I never liked bananas – they didn’t suit my tastes although I was an avid eater of many other fruits (though I have been told that banana is in fact an herb and not a fruit…my sources are not reliable and I’ve never dwelled upon it enough to research about it). A few years ago, or maybe even less, I found that I only was opposed to ripe bananas, the perfectly yellow, verging towards little brown spots within a day or two, ideal bananas for eating. I like them perhaps a few days before they reach that state, right after they lose the green phase in which they feel slightly starchy and rubbery in the aftertaste of eating a banana too un-ripened. They ought to be still firm and only slightly green on the edges for me to allow myself to eat them. Most would disagree with this manner in eating bananas but I suppose a lifetime of being forced to eat mushy ripened bananas as entirely ruptured my taste for bananas. Once they reach the state in which I no longer care to eat them, I leave them to brown as much as I dare. Then I bake.
Often times I find that the banana bread recipes I bake are lacking in a small unknown quality of which would make them taste like store-bought, professionally baked banana bread. Others were too dense or tasteless. In some I actually could taste that there was too much flour. Again I resorted to a recipe on the back of my flour bag although I was still skeptical. It makes for a banana bread that fulfills that missing bit in all my other banana breads. Although I was not blown away, I was glad I had finally produced a tasteful banana bread. With a few additions or adjustments, I’m sure it would be even more amazing. I would recommend this as a beginner’s recipe; it’s really not too shabby. Only thing is, I baked them quite a while ago and I can’t quite remember my first reactions to them.
Notes: I read that if you have extra bananas that didn’t fit into your recipe for any banana treat or if you don’t have enough bananas to bake, all you need to do is mash them up and store them individually in ziploc bags and freeze them until your decide to bake with them again or when you’ve finally acquired the appropriate amount of brown bananas to bake with.
Also, larger bananas are sweeter than smaller ones – or so I was told by my mom. And of course, as many already know, the browner and more ripened you allow your bananas to get, the sweeter and overall better your baked good will turn out to be.
To hasten the ripening process of bananas, place them in a paper brown bag with an apple or tomato and seal it closed. The ethylene gas emitted from the apple or tomato encourages the ripening of the bananas and the paper bag traps the gas inside. The bananas should ripen with the course of 24 hours. I suppose if you add more than one apple there would be more ethylene gas but I can’t say for sure. I don’t experiment apples and their ethylene gases.
To peel bananas without leaving behind the stringy bits, start at the end of the banana (where it was not once attached to the bunch) and give it a squeeze between your fingers (imagine a compass and the respective labels of north south and so on and pinch the end of the banana from north/south, then again from east/west … I couldn’t think of a better way to describe pinching the end of the banana) twice. Proceed to peel the banana from that same end. It’s also how monkeys peel them, if you ever wondered.
Banana Bread Recipe – courtesy of Gold Medal Flour
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium bananas)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottoms of 2 (8×4 inch) loaf pans or 1 (9×5 inch) loaf pan.
- In a large blow, mix sugar and butter. Add eggs, bananas, buttermilk and vanilla; beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt and nuts until just moistened (don’t you dare overmix – this will only lead to a miserably lousy, dense brick of a banana bread). Pour batter into pans.*
- Bake 8 inch loaves for 1 hour or 9 inch loaf for 1 hour and 15 minutes, that is until the toothpick comes out clean after inserted into the center of the bread. Cool for 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool for about 1 hour before slicing.
*When I bake banana bread the edges often bake faster than the middle would, thus the edges would harden and burn by the time the center is entirely baked. To fix this, I allow for the bread to bake until the top is golden brown (but not at all ready to take out) and I cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil to keep it from browning further while still in the oven baking. Don’t take the loaf out, just simply open the open the quickly bend the foil over the curved dome of the bread, making sure all the sides are covered. Don’t worry about sealing it down or smoothing it over tightly, it’s unnecessary.
Yields 2 loaves (16 slices each)