Every Tuesday I choose a different friend to be my tutor for a day: I select one of their original recipes, I make the recipe following my friend's instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I scarf down as much as my belt-line will permit - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Learn More
Heather never ceases to surprise me and I'm always learning something. Sometimes it's about food or ingredients, sometimes about new cookbooks, sometimes about new novels. The more I visit girlichef, the stronger the addiction. So when I discovered Heather's family heritage banana bread recipe while browsing through the extensive girlichef archive, I knew she would have something to teach me. And I was right. Get out a fork - we're about to make banana bread!
About the Author
- "My first solid food was frijoles refritos (refried beans). It's a running joke in my family that those beans stemmed my passion for Mexican cuisine. Yet, I think it's true."
- "My 'last meal' choice would be a Filet Mignon (medium) with hand-cut fries and a big ol' pitcher of Bearnaise sauce to use on both."
- "I can quote (the movie) Dazed and Confused from beginning to end. Also Goonies. And Girls Just Want to Have Fun. And The Notebook. YIKES!"
- "I love reading culinary mysteries. Sure, they might be fun and a bit "fluffy", but I LOVE them. I'm a closet private eye."
- "I can relate almost anything to food...bring any experience right back to the kitchen."
|Photo courtesy of girlichef|
|Next you will need your fork and a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add your sugar and butter.|
For this step, it's very important that your butter is room temperature so that it will be easy
for you to cream with the fork
|Mash the butter and sugar together with the fork, moving in quick, strong strokes|
|Keep turning the bowl and whipping with the fork...|
|...the butter will slowly start to change in color, lightening and becoming fluffier...|
|...until you arrive at light and fluffy butter and sugar. This whole process takes about 5 minutes|
of constant work with the fork, while turing the bowl with your other hand.
|Whisk to combine the milk and buttermilk. The mixture may produce small bubbles during|
when mixed which is normal as the acid from the milk has activated the baking soda
|Add the baking soda/milk to the creamed butter and stir together thoroughly|
|Add two large eggs. It's again important that these eggs be room temperature to prevent the|
cold eggs from causing the butter to clump. If your eggs are cold, before cracking, soak them
in a bowl of hot water for 3 minutes first
|Beat in the eggs with the fork until the batter is well combined.|
|Next comes the unbleached, all purpose flour. It really helps if you have a sifter as you won't|
need to dirty yet another bowl =)
|Sift in the flour and add a pinch of salt (I used kosher salt, about 1/4 teaspoon)|
|Tip in the mix-ins...|
|...then mix with the fork to combine. The batter will be thick and sticky.|
|Within two days, you will have ripe bananas. Mine didn't quite reach the brown stage, but|
it doesn't seem to have dramatically affected the final flavor or texture of the bread.
|Chunk the bananas and add them to a flat-bottomed bowl or dish for mashing. I found that|
my French White Corning Ware soufflé dish worked well for this.
|Mash the bananas with a fork (or you can be a rebel and use a potato masher which worked|
quite well and was quite painless). This is where the flat-bottom of the dish helps to prevent
the bananas from escaping the mash-action.
|You will arrive at a lovely puree. If you like chunks of banana in your bread, don't smash|
quite as vigorously as I did
|Add the smashed bananas to your batter (or the batter to the smashed bananas in my case)|
and fold everything together.
|Don't go crazy with mixing or you will toughen-up the final baked bread.|
|Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top. You're ready to bake.|
|You should now be able to easily lift out the bread using the edges of the foil lining.|
|Now is the time to eat this delightful bread. Seriously, start carving off slices and passing them|
out to your family and friends. It doesn't get any better...
|The melted chocolate...the warm banana scent, the moist bread...mmmm...|
One slice will NEVER due!
Thoughts while scarfing...
- Eat this bread 10 minutes after it's finished baking. It's amazingly moist, every bite is a fragrant comfort, and something about the warmth from the oven makes everything taste better. Yes, you can save the loaf for another day, but it's just not the same. It's a little dryer, it's a little heavier, it's a little less comforting.
- Sometimes a recipe is so perfect, you don't even want to meddle the tiniest bit with it or risk upsetting the entire careful balance of flavors and textures. Especially when baking. This banana bread is one of these recipes and it's obvious why Heather's mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all passed this recipe down from one generation to the next. It's truly a wonderful banana bread.
- I love the melted chocolate chips in this bread, but if you're a nut fan, walnuts would also be delicious. But I don't recommend exceeding Heather's 1/2 cup limit because this bread doesn't require a slew of mix-ins and you really don't want to distract from the simple comfort of the bread itself.
- Sometimes machines help. Sometimes the old-fashioned tools are the best. And since this is an heirloom recipe, I recommend sticking with the simple fork and saving your stand mixer for another day. Besides, it only takes about 5 minutes to cream the butter and sugar with the fork - and it will help you work up a little appetite!