Friday, February 11, 2022

Best Banana Bread

This recipe makes the best banana bread ever! I was never a fan of banana bread until this recipe. I even won 1st prize at our local fair for this banana bread. It can be made into loaves or muffins easily, and it disappears quickly around here.

This is a great way to use up overripe bananas. If you're a mom, you know how that goes. One week you can't keep bananas in stock because the kids eat them constantly, so you buy more only to have them sit there until they turn brown because nobody wants bananas. This is how you turn those unwanted bananas into a treat they will eat.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
5-6 overripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2-3 tablespoons ground flax seed (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional, but highly recommended)
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir together butter and sugar until well-blended. Mix in eggs. Mash bananas and add them immediately. You don't want to mash the bananas until you're ready to add them or they will turn brown and oxidized. Also, don't mash them to death. You don't want banana soup. I use a pastry blender to mash/cut the bananas. You want small pieces and some mush. It adds to the texture and keeps it flavorful.

In a small bowl, mix together the salt, baking soda, flours, and ground flax seed (if desired). You can use all white flour, all wheat flour, or a mix of the two. I prefer half and half for the best taste and texture that is hearty without being too dense. The ground flax seed adds a mild, nutty taste and some healthy fiber and omega-3's.

Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Mix in the chopped walnuts, if you're using them. I like mine very finely chopped. Last, stir in the cream cheese pieces, if you want them. I usually don't do the cream cheese, but I have done it occasionally. 

Pour the batter into the greased pans. This recipe makes 24 standard muffins or 2 loaves (or 1 loaf and 12 muffins, if you can't decide). Bake for 30-35 minutes for muffins or 60-70 minutes for loaves. It's done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Don't under bake and, actually, a little extra baking won't hurt. I usually aim for about 35 minutes for muffins because I like to let mine get a little extra brown and toasted on top. The muffins are moist enough that this does not dry them out.

If you add the cream cheese, you'll want to store the banana bread in the fridge. Without the cream cheese, it can be covered and stored at room temperature.

I also reheat muffins in the toaster to give them a slightly toasted crust on the outside and leave them soft and moist on the inside. These warm, toasted muffins are great dipped in milk (like maybe, in a cereal bowl). The bread slices are better untoasted and warmed slightly in the microwave. If you don't add cream cheese pieces, you can still spread cream cheese on the bread when you eat it, if you want to. Enjoy!