Banana Bread

Once again, Joanne Chang works her magic, or rather science, into one of her most impressive recipes that I’ve yet to try at home. Ms. Chang is one of those chefs who is driven to improve every recipe that passes through her expert hands. Those familiar with this blog will know that she is among the world’s most accomplished pastry chefs and the mastermind behind Flour Bakery + Cafe, an establishment of renown. People are talking (and eating), and happily, one is in my Boston neighborhood. Naturally, I’m a frequent visitor. Flour Bakery + Cafe has eight locations in and around Boston.

Ms. Chang’s recipe for banana bread is an absolute gem and an excellent example of her precise and thorough directions that genuinely pay off. I have made some slight changes that adapt this recipe to two 8″ x5″ loaf pans, so you can share with your neighbor, which will make you very popular. Another idea is to make one with nuts and one without, as some people can be pretty fussy about the necessity for nuts in banana bread. My minor alteration should keep everyone happy.

Banana bread is known as a “quick bread” for it does not contain yeast, but instead uses a leavening agent, baking powder. Baking powder was not invented until the 1930s; before then, pearlash was used as a leaven. The basic science behind what a leavening agent does in a recipe is simple. In some form or fashion if you’re of a mind to lighten up and get some air into that dense mass of bread dough, you’ll need either a leavening process, to introduce air into the dough, or something like yeast, which is not a “quick,” process, or as just mentioned, baking powder. It does an excellent job as a leaven and perhaps helps in keeping the bread moist.

Definitely give this recipe a try, with or without nuts, or one of each!

Yield: 2 8″x5″ loaf pans

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cupsAll-Purpose flour315g
1 1/2 tspBaking soda8g
1 tspGround Cinnamon3g
3/4 tspSalt5g
1 1/2 cupSugar345g
3 ea.Eggs
3/4 cupCanola oil150g
2 1/2 cupMashed bananas (about 6)660g
3 tblSour cream40g
1 1/2 tspVanilla Extract5g
1 cupChopped Walnuts115g

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Spray 2 8″ loaf pans with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  • With whip attachment on the mixer, beat together sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Reduce mixer to low speed and gradually drizzle in oil. If the oil is added too quickly, it will deflate the sugar and eggs.
  • Add the bananas, sour cream and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed until combined.
  • With a rubber, spatular fold in flour mixture and walnuts if using. Ensure not to over mix, but no flour streaks are visible.
  • Distribute evenly between the two prepared loaf pans.
  • Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, baking time may vary depending on oven. The bread should be golden brown, and when the top is pressed, you do not leave an indentation with your finger.
  • Let cool for 30 minutes, then remove from pans and place on a rack to continue cooling.

Since you are making two loafs banana bread can be frozen to enjoy later. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Always remember to date and label what goes into the freezer.

Happy Baking!

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