Find a banana, take a banana (bread)

Last weekend I was in Chicago for the first time, as hubby wanted to run the Chicago Marathon.  It’s funny: that makes it sound like he just decided to do it one day and off we went.  Trust me: it’s been a loooong 6 months of training for him.

I won’t go into detail about the marathon, but long story short, it was awesome, and hubs powered through it like a champ even though both of his legs cramped up and he had to walk part of the time.

Chicago was incredible though – I once heard a comedian say that Chicago is what Toronto could be when it grows up, and to be honest, I fully agree (although hopefully minus the gun violence!)  Gorgeous architecture, friendly people, insanely supportive of the marathon, laid back and good eats – Chicago is everything I look for in a city and even though it poured rain for 2 of the 5 days we were there, I’d go back in a heartbeat.

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Back in the office last week though, and what do I see in the kitchen but about 20 just-past-their-prime bananas. Now I’m one of those people who eats a banana as soon as it’s yellow and not a minute afterward.  So these slightly manky bananas – giving off a strong banana scent and loaded with spots – were just crying out to be made into banana bread.

As the only person in my household who eats bananas, I’ve often had these perfect banana bread bananas. I save them up in my freezer and when I have 5 or 6, I crank out a loaf of banana bread and divvy it up between my family. My banana bread is one of the only things I bake that my parents will willingly take because they can freeze it and thaw it out every weekend to have a piece. (My parents are also fans of refrigerating red wine, just so you get an idea of the generation they’re coming from haha)

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The great thing about this recipe is that you can eat the bread plain, and it’s incredibly moist and banana-y but the recipe also allows for the addition of some fun ingredients (like chocolate chips or walnuts) or some healthy ingredients (like greek yogurt or raspberries).  For the bread in the photos I added a handful of chocolate chips and a few Skor bits.

The original recipe is by Shelley Albeluhn via Allrecipes.com. I usually make the recipe as is, although I never measure the banana out. I just stick 4 large or 5-6 medium/small bananas in there and know it’ll have enough banana flavour. Any changes/additions I’ve made are in red.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup butter (you can substitute 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt for a healthier version)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (or 4 large or 5-6 medium/small bananas
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees C, grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan, or a square cake pan (9×9 maybe?) for a lighter, cakier bread.
  • Cream together butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Make sure these four ingredients are very well mixed!
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Combine with butter mixture until just blended.
  • Gently fold in mashed bananas and chocolate chips/walnuts if you’re using them.
  • Spread into loaf tin or cake pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out mostly clean.  Banana bread is notorious for not baking all the way through, so be patient! You don’t need the knife to come out totally clean, but be careful of over-baking and/or stabbing the bread too many times to check for doneness.
  • *HINT: If the top of the bread is getting too brown, cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil.

Good luck! You can store this bread in an airtight container in the fridge or on the counter for 3 days.  According to my parents, it also freezes well *insert eye roll*.

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