Bananas are not my favourite fruit. That is, eaten raw.
The window of opportunity for eating a raw banana that’s just at the right moment of ripeness – smooth yet ever so slightly al dente in texture with the hint of sweetness and a slightly sour under-taste – is so narrow that I’ve pretty well given up.
A cooked banana, on the other hand, is a beautiful thing.
Peeled and fried au naturel, it makes a fabulous sidekick for spicy curry. Grilled on the barbecue in or out of its skin – simply delish. Doused in rum with butter, lemon juice and brown sugar, then served over vanilla ice cream in the “Foster” manner, bananas are downright delectable. Battered and deep-fried in big chunks, they’re a favourite dessert of mine in certain Chinese restaurants.
But few things beat the best way to recycle the black-speckled banana that’s well past its eating prime. I speak, of course, of banana bread.
I’ve been playing around with banana bread for many years. I’ve varied quantities of flour, butter or oil, eggs, leavening agent etc. I’ve tried adding things to gussy it up from coconut to walnuts to raisins to chocolate chips.
And recently, I went on a serious banana bread baking binge.
As is my wont, I scoured my cookbook library, recipe clippings and the ‘Net. Six banana breads later, I found the winning combo of ingredients and ultimate method.
Here, dear friends, is the result. As usual, you’re welcome.
Best Banana Bread
Bananas that are so ripe their skins have gone black work best for this. Freezing the bananas brings out their sweetness and juice. The result: a deliciously moist cake that’s almost like a pudding. I like the combo of chocolate chips and cranberries for the contrast in semi-sweet and tart taste. Feel free to add or substitute ingredients like chopped walnuts or raisins as you see fit.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 large very ripe bananas, frozen, thawed, peeled
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with butter. Dust lightly with flour
In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and cranberries.
In medium bowl. mash 5 of the bananas; reserve remaining one. Stir in melted butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla until combined. Pour over flour mixture. Stir just until combined; do not over-mix. Slice reserved banana in chunks; press on top of batter to half-submerge. Sprinkle loaf with granulated sugar.
Bake in oven 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean.
Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan; turn loaf so banana chunks are on top.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.