If you're like me, nothing about the phrase banana bread is appealing. Banana makes me think of school backpacks, brown spots, and a strange aftertaste. When I think bread, I think savory, so that when I encounter it in saccharine form, I can only think of the cheesy scallion bread I could have had instead.
But if you were to taste this bread, free of baggage and expectations, you might become a banana bread convert. If you had hoped that a sweet bread would taste more like bread than cake, while still being moist and tender, this is your cake. If you hoped one day to try a banana bread that tasted more like bananas than sugar, this is your cake.
I am such a fan of this cake that I've made it twice in the past few weeks. King Arthur Flour, as expected, takes their baking seriously. The King Arthur Flour Baker Companion is one of those books that should be on the shelf of anyone who bakes more than once a year. My copy was a belated Christmas gift, and judging by the batter splatters on the cover, I can tell it's going to have a permanent home in the kitchen.
The book has measurements in both volume and weight, and they're precise. But what I love most of all about this book is that you don't sense any of that hyper-obsessive anxiety in the recipes. They're approachable and read like something out of your grandmother's recipe box. (My grandmothers probably never baked, and I've never seen anything like a recipe box from either of them. But I can imagine.) Best of all, they work. This may strike you as fanciful, but: They taste like something that took generations to perfect. It's plausible. After all, King Arthur Flour is old (the company, not their flour). More than 200 years old. That's many, many generations of baking experimentation.
Back to the banana bread. It comes together quickly, as in my parents are on their way to my apartment RIGHT NOW quickly. Give it a try. If you don't like it, then I'll give you your blogging money back (and hopefully, by the time you realize that statement is utter nonsense, you will have tried this bread and become a convert).
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion
Makes 1 9-inch loaf, or 1 10-inch bundt cake
This is a very moist, tender cake. The banana flavor is clear but not overpowering.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar (7 oz)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (2 3/8 ounces)
- 1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 very ripe bananas)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 2 2/3 unbleached all-purpose flour (11 3/8 ounces)
- 1 cup yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream (8 ounces)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (4 ounces)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease either a 9x5-inch loaf pan or a 10-inch bundt pan. (King Arthur says to flour the pan, too. I used a bundt pan but didn't flour it. The cake still came out undamaged. I can't guarantee the same results for you.)
- WET | Beat the eggs, sugar, and vegetable oil in a bowl. Add and incorporate the vanilla extract and mashed bananas.
- DRY | In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg (King Arthur calls for sifting the dry ingredients after whisking; I skipped this step since I don't have a sifter, and the cake turned out fine. Just be sure to thoroughly whisk.)
- COMBINE | Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well (try not to take too long mixing). Add the yogurt and walnuts, stirring to mix until they're just combined.
- BAKE | Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for an hour until a skewer in the center comes out clean.
- COOL | When the bread is done, rest the pan on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool on the rack until it's completely cool.