Saturday, August 28, 2010

Banana Bread

I realized this morning that I need to start buying butter by the ton.

In the US, people can claim that something is "the best there is" without really backing up their statement. One of my favorite examples of this is when an Argentine steak house moved into my neighborhood, and before they were open, a sign in the window boldly declared, "Best Steak in Minneapolis!" According to whom? The chef's mother? They weren't even open yet!

Anyway, it seems that everyone has a "best there is" banana bread recipe, but I have yet to find one I truly like. Today I am trying out the Moosewood Cookbook's banana bread. It includes two sticks of butter (gasp!) in addition to some interesting flavors - almond extract, orange zest, black coffee, and sesame seeds. We'll see how it turns out.

The Recipe
Beat together in a large bowl, beginning with the sugar and butter, add eggs one-at-a-time. Add remaining ingredients and beat until light in color:

1 cup (two sticks) butter, softened
1 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp grated orange rind

Sift together the following ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Puree together the following:

3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
 2/3 cup black coffee

Add flour mixture and banana mixture alternately to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour (flour-banana-flour-banana-flour). After each addition, mix gently to combine, but do not beat or otherwise overmix - this toughens and dries the bread.

Generously butter two loaf pans and sprinkle with sesame seeds (they'll stick to the butter). Divide batter into the two pans and bake for 40-50 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

The Verdict
The flavor is very, very good. And I love the addition of sesame seeds on the bottom. However, it isn't as moist as I'd like for it to be (suggestions?), and I think I might add chunks of something next time, like maybe banana or walnuts. Mmmm. I think we're getting closer to "best there is".

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