Bananas taste great – until they start to ripen. Yes, I am one of those weird people who prefers my bananas just on the cusp of ripeness. They’re perfect when they’re just a little bit green, still firm. Sometimes these bananas almost crunch, they’re so unripe. Once the first few little brown spots appear, they’re tolerable, but not perfection. And once they’re a normal person’s “ripe,” they’re done for. Because of my exacting standards, I get a lot of “too ripe” bananas. Thankfully Munchkin isn’t so picky.
I used to make banana pudding out of old bananas in the mistaken belief that banana bread was too hard. 😛 (Because stirring milk and sugar and cornstarch for 20 minutes isn’t…. ?) I’m really not sure why I thought this. I decided to make a go of banana bread over the summer since I didn’t want to slave over a hot pot for banana pudding (no one but me eats it anyway) and I could make the bread in the toaster oven outside.
I started tinkering with the recipe… and this is the result. I use a lot of whole wheat flour, and I cut it with whole wheat pastry flour in all of my recipes to keep the end product from getting too dense. My preferred ratio of pastry to regular flour is about 1/4th to 1/2 of the original flour amount. For example, if the original recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, I’ll make about 1/4 to 1/2 of that amount pastry flour, depending on how light and fluffy I want the result to be. If you use all whole wheat flour, it will be a drier batter as the flour soaks up more liquid. I also don’t like overly sweet breads – so I cut the sugar down from the original amount and I don’t add chocolate chips. I also boosted the number of bananas – partly to add back sweetness, but also to add more moisture to the bread. And lastly, I use pecans because one of my family members reacts poorly to walnuts. I think the sweetness of the pecans tastes better than a walnut-y bite, but you could substitute walnuts instead.
This is a great recipe to make with munchkins, by the way. I scoop the dry ingredients out of the bag or tin, but let Munchkin dump them into the bowl and stir gently. (I go back to make sure it’s well mixed.) I also have him peel and smash the bananas with a fork on a plate, and take the wrapper off the butter. He also gets a workout by getting things out of the fridge and putting ingredients away. Munchkin is all about helping me cook and he’s actually helpful now – it’s pretty awesome!
Very Banana-y Banana Bread
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup butter (or coconut oil, pre-melted)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 – 4 ripe bananas
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine the flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
3. Melt the butter (or coconut oil) in a smaller bowl. Add the sugar and eggs and combine. Make sure the sugars and fats are well combined, this is where you’ll get your loft!
4. Smash the bananas. Chop the pecans. Add both to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix well.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Do NOT over-combine! This is the critical part, if you over-mix the batter the bread will not rise during baking. I use 16 – 18 folding-style strokes to combine the ingredients. A good rule of thumb is to do one stroke, and look at the batter to see if it needs more mixing. If it does, do another stroke, check to see if that’s enough. If the batter is mostly mixed but there’s skiffs of flour here and there, that’s okay… it will meld during the cooking process.
6. Transfer to your greased loaf pan (generally around 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″). You can use butter or coconut oil. (I like the coconut flavor accent that the oil adds.) Bake for 50 minutes and let cool before transferring out of the pan.
** You can make muffins with this recipe too! It makes 12 respectably-sized muffins. Up the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
Adapted from the Banana Bread recipe in The Joy of Cooking.