Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sundays with Sparky - Warm Banana Bread

Nothing says lazy weekend like a slice of banana bread for breakfast - the most difficult part about it is waiting for your bread to come out of the oven!  We like a dense banana bread heavy on the bananas and a little rustic - so we add a secret ingredient: oatmeal.  The pictured bread was made with rolled oats, although typically we use quick oats which incorporate into the bread a little bit better - use whatever you have on hand.

Sparky goes hot and cold on bananas, so I'm forever sticking the unwanted ones into the freezer before they head south.  When I have a small collection, banana bread it is! Don't be scared - the peels on your frozen bananas will be black, but the pulp is fine.  Frozen bananas aren't going to leave chunks in your bread, and they do exude more liquid than their fresh counterparts - it isn't a bad idea to allow them to drain in a colander as they thaw.  Don't throw away the liquid, though!  Just reduce the amount of yogurt in the recipe (this works particularly well if you use a strained, greek-style yogurt) by pouring the banana liquid into the measuring cup first, then topping with the yogurt. 

1 1/2 cups  flour
1/2 cups oatmeal (if using old-fashioned oats, you may want to toss them in the blender and grind them up a bit)
1 1/4 cups walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 - 4 large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (or banana juice and yogurt to make 1/4 cup - use Greek yogurt if you have a lot of juice)
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

While I set the oven to preheat to 350, I had Sparky twist each whole walnut between his fingers to "chop" it, then he scattered them on a baking sheet.  I put them in the oven to toast as it preheated (for about 5 minutes - don't burn them!)  Take them out as soon as you smell warm nuttiness and allow them to cool.  We then got out our standard loaf pan, sprayed it with cooking spray and set it aside as we prepared the rest of our ingredients.

We measured the dry ingredients into a large bowl: flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, mixed them well with the walnuts, and set it aside. The remaning ingredients were mixed in a medium bowl until well blended. Then Sparky carefully combined the two mixtures so as not to awaken the gluten in the flour - he mixed only until there were no white clumps and we had a beautiful lumpy batter, which we poured into the loaf pan.

After 50 minutes, I poked it in the center with a skewer - we let it cook until the skewer came clean.  Then we let it rest for about 5 minutes, and turned out the loaf onto a plate. Delicious!


For Intimate Gatherings said...

I love banana bread! I swear, I would be very happy living as a Hays.

Michele Hays said...

Thanks, guys...and you'd be welcome to, if you could squish into our tiny house...

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