With Nuts vs. Nut-Free Banana Bread is a culinary disagreement older than pineapples on pizza (yes) and ketchup on everything (no.) In my house, we’re pretty divided. I personally really love chopped walnuts or almonds in my banana bread, but my husband can’t stand them. In fact, he won’t eat nuts on/in anything except maybe trail mix. He loves a good ol’ banana split but you better believe he tells them to leave them off while I stare at him and wonder how a person’s taste buds could be so weird. However, he loves bananas (fresh, splits, bread, taffy) and we’re never short of ripe frozen bananas to make bread around here.
You see, we buy about a half dozen every week or so and feed most of them to the baby. She also adores them and they’re usually gone before they turn brown. But at least twice a week, one of the kids will bring a banana home from school that has been in their backpack since breakfast when they picked it up off the share table (kids put the foods they don’t want on it and take one or two things they will eat.) Because it’s been sitting there all day and then gets bumped around on the short walk from school, it’s usually pretty mushy by the time it gets through our door so if they don’t eat it for an after-school snack, it goes right in the freezer.
We stockpile them until they either overflow or I really feel like baking. This particular batch was neither because owed it to my husband. The day before I had eaten the last slice of lemon cake that he wanted to bring with him for lunch the next day. In his defense here, I did eat most of the rest of the pound cake sampler. So to make it up to him, I promised to bake a loaf of banana bread. I also promised not to cut into it at all until he got home from work. I didn’t promise to take pictures and write about it, but it as sort of a given.
Thawing Your Frozen Bananas
The first thing I do in the morning if I want to bake banana bread, is take the bananas out to thaw. Many people will peel and slice the bananas before freezing in a plastic bag, which is actually genius. We don’t, much of the time, due to the whole extra bananas from school thing.
If your bananas are in the skins, you can either slice the peel with a sharp knife & take them off right after you bring them out of the freezer, or thaw them first. It’s more of a gooey mess if you wait, but it’s less work during that crucial period in the morning before you’ve had your coffee. Either way, make sure you place them in a bowl to thaw.
About 3-5 hours later (Is it lunchtime already?) I slice down the side of the now squishy peel and then turn the banana over and dump the entire mushy fruit into your mixing bowl. You want about a cup of mashed bananas, which I can usually get out of 3 medium to large ones. If you’re going to slice the bananas before freezing, measuring them at about 1 1/2 cups. They lose volume once they’re mushy or mashed.
Mixing in the Wet Ingredients
Add to the mashed bananas your wet ingredients and sugar. I don’t whisk my eggs first, but you certainly can. I like to use 1/2 cup vegetable or grapeseed oil, however butter can be substituted as well. You’ll also need a teaspoon vanilla, 2 eggs, and 1/4 cup milk. I use dairy, but you can substitute rice milk (or nut milks – it just won’t be really nut free bread then.) I just dump them all in the mixer with the bananas and turn it on low. While the mixer is running, pour a cup of white, granulated sugar in and let all the ingredients get nice and incorporated. I will admit, sometimes I leave the mixer running at this point while I measure dry ingredients. It’s totally overkill but it doesn’t hurt anything.
Adding the Dry Ingredients
Now you’ll need to measure out your dry ingredients and incorporate them together. I just grab a 4 cup measuring cup and mix it all up in there. You’re going to use 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Whether you sift them or not depends on how much of a hurry you’re in. If I’m feeling low on time, I just grab a fork and break up any clumps while I mix everything together.
With your mixer on low, slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the bowl. If you don’t already have this bowl shield thingy (affiliate link) for your kitchenaid, you need one. It’s a total time saver in terms of clean up and not having flour flying all over the place.
Bake it up!
Now mix that up just until all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, it takes only about a minute. Shut off your mixer and prep your baking pan with a little bit of grease on the bottom and sides. (Use butter, shortening, lard, whatever you prefer.) Pour the entire bowl into one loaf pan and pop that baby in the oven for an hour. Wash your dishes or watch t.v., just find something to do or this hour will take forever.
Make sure to test that your bread is done by sticking a toothpick or cake tester (affiliate link) in the center. If it comes out all gooey, pop that baby in for another 5-10 minutes and test again. If it comes out clean (or with little bread crumbs) then it’s done. Flip it out onto a cooling rack and let it cool at least long enough that it won’t burn you if you eat it slowly. (Or longer, which is safer.)
Now, I know I told Nick I wouldn’t even cut into it until he got home. But for the sake of taking a photo for you, I totally cut it early. I promise I didn’t eat even a single crumb until he took a bite first. It was super scrumptious though, and gone within 24 hours. I have no regrets.
Now I have to know – on the yes/no to certain added ingredients in food, which way do you go? Pineapple on pizza? Nuts in your banana bread? Honey or sugar for your tea? You tell me!
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