I have made banana nut bread before on many occasions. Our go-to recipe was always located in our Fanny Farmer Cookbook. Yesterday though, we had some bananas going bad and I stumbled upon this recipe via a Pinterest infographic and thought I’d give it a whirl.
There was a slight problem with this recipe, which I’ll discuss, but it’s the best banana nut bread my family and I have ever tasted. Ever! The Best! I made two loaves to use up all of the bananas, and my parents tore into them like rodents or rabid monkeys… which are probably not good euphemisms to supply when one is speaking on the topic of food.
The main difference with this recipe and that of Fanny Farmer is that this one uses butter. Our go-to recipe didn’t use any butter or oil and there were slight fluctuations in other ingredient amounts. I also doubled this recipe to use all the bananas we had (which is why there are two sticks of butter in the shot), but I’ll simply supply the basic recipe, but doubling is easy. Don’t even try with math unless you’re a whiz, if it says 1/2 tsp, just do that twice, or 1/3 cup, just do that twice.
Banana Nut Bread
- 8 Tbs Butter (1 stick, softened)
- 1 C Sugar
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 3 Bananas, mashed
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 1/4 C Flour
- 1/3 C Walnuts
Cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the eggs and banana. Slowly mix in the salt, soda, and flour. Fold in the walnuts.
Bake at 350 in a greased loaf pan for 40 – 50 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks.
Now, you’ll want bananas like I’ve shown above. Lots of speckles and the peel practically slides off, but you don’t want them rotten. I mean all fruit that’s sweet is rotten a little, that’s why it’s sweet and gets sweeter and then is inedible. You don’t want inedible bananas. If the fruit is bruised that’s perfectly fine.
One can do this step without any mechanical equipment. I mean, it was done for hundreds of years before electricity. But, it’s A LOT of work and it really is quite difficult to get the desired consistency by hand. I know. I’ve tried. A lot.
An electric mixer is one I would tell you to spring for. Doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to work and not cause a fire because of bad wiring (in relation to older versions you may inherit or find at a yard sale). Can be a stand mixer or a hand mixer. We just have the stand variety. This really is a work horse appliance and I use it all the time from making breads and whipping up cookie doughs to making butter or whipped cream to even simply creaming butter and sugar which is the purpose of this particular recipe.
So, the next step is adding the beaten eggs and the mashed bananas. Simple enough, I just wanted to say a word on technique. Most people think that you absolutely need a whisk to beat eggs. Most people probably even have a whisk or two or five. However you don’t need one. Now, if you wish to whip cream by hand, I’d suggest a large sturdy whisk and a copper bowl, but that’s in an ideal world. But for eggs, a fork will work. Some people use two, it just depends upon your preference.
See it needs to resemble a whisk so air can circulate. Which is why a fork will work, but a spoon will not. Two gives you better circulation and less work. My grandfather always used a fork for beating eggs and I just learned it from him. It’s really all in the wrist-work anyways, so whisk or fork, if you give power to the whisking motion via your wrist, then all is well.
Mashing bananas is easy and you can use a fork for this, as a spoon isn’t as easy and will give more of a smooth paste, which you do not want. However anything you want to use is fine. I have an antique potato masher that was my great grandmothers and I use that.
So, any dark unsavoury bits in the bananas, just pull them out of the mush. They’re not bugs, they’re just bruised places on the bananas that are hard and you don’t want that in your banana bread. Also your banana mush purée should be pretty lumpy like scrambled eggs.
So, I’m adding my beaten eggs and mashed up bananas to the creamed sugar. Just give that a good mix to incorporate everything so you don’t have large lumps of butter-sugar in there.
Then you’ll just add the measured out dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix that up well, and then add in your walnuts and fold those in. You don’t want to furiously mix them in.
I didn’t want whole pieces of walnuts in the bread, but rather just some good size pieces. We have a nut chopper. It’s an antique hand crank one that was my grandmothers. It only produces one size; very tiny. It’s actually pretty difficult and the metal of the chute actually kind of hurts. So, I’ve started adding my nuts to a ziplock bag and pounding them with this wooden mallet that we have, which is also an antique from my great grandmother. This one tiny thing has significantly upped my chocolate chip cookies in amazing-ness.
It is noisy, but it’s pretty quick. You could use a dish towel if you wish, and just something with a bit of heaviness behind it. I wouldn’t suggest a hammer or a metal kitchen mallet as they’ll tear anything up that you put the nuts in; and a wooden spoon isn’t heavy enough. But a bit of wooden block or a rubber mallet would be fine. I just use ziplock because I’m messy and I can’t keep the nuts contained in a towel, but perhaps you’d have better luck?
So, your bread dough should be light yellow in colour and have some small gobs of yellow banana goo in there. Greasing a pan is easy. Just pick an oil, any oil; vegetable, canola, olive, or coconut (though the last two will change the taste of the bread, though that might not be a bad thing), and add a little into your loaf pan and rub it around in there with a paper towel or kitchen towel. Be sure to get in the corners. You can just use a spray can of oil, but I don’t always have that or am not always able to have that, and this works just fine.
Then just pour the bread dough into the prepared pan and pop it into your preheated oven for 40 – 50 minutes and out will come a beautifully dark and delicious sweet bread; not to be confused with the French term sweetbreads which are innards.
Now, the recipe stopped with the baking portion, but you should set this on a cooking rack until it’s cooled down completely. My parents didn’t do this and you’ll have the bottom of your bread stuck in the pan; either portions or the entire thing, as was the case with both of mine.
I think this recipe could have done with a scant bit more of flour. Perhaps not the entire 2 cups that Fanny Farmer calls for, but perhaps upping it from 1 1/4 to 1 1/2? Which is something that I’ll try the next time that I bake this, but the bread falls apart too easily with only 1 1/4 cups. I’m not too much of a fuss when it comes to presentation, as I’m sure you can tell from my photos because they’re lacking in fancy table clothes, flowers, beautiful knives or melting pats of butter, but you do want a nice banana nut bread that holds its shape, if you’re serving to guests or even trying to sell this at a bake sale or farmers market. However, for my family we didn’t much care that it was falling apart.
Also… I, err… forgot to set the timer when I put these into the oven. I remembered and guessed that I might still have 30 minutes left (from 50), so set it for that. However, a toothpick can sort all of that out. When my timer went off I inserted a toothpick into the center of the bread and it was gooey, so underdone. Put it back in for ten more minutes and the second toothpick came out clean.
I will say that I’m not certain if it was over cooked and perhaps the flour measurement was spot on? I will of course remember to set the timer from the get-go next time (I hope). But, the crust did have a lovely flavour which seemed slightly and pleasantly burnt. I suppose carmalized would be a better adjective (which is burnt sugar, just a pleasantly controlled burning of sugar). The bread wasn’t burnt, but more like carmalized. I’m not sure if this is simply because there was butter in the mix, or the butter and possible over cooking? I’m thinking from the initial photo that mine was overcooked. I suggest doing that, seriously, it’s so-ooooo-oooooo good!
So, what are you waiting for? I’m sure you have some mushy bananas just waiting to be turned into the best banana nut bread you’ve probably ever eaten!
A few notes:
* I would not suggest using margarine in place of butter. I’m sure that you could and it would probably work the same (though in some recipes it will not), but you should always go with real butter if you’re able to.
* I added more walnuts than it called for, jumping from 1/3 up to 1/2 or 2/3 there-abouts. I just approximated.
* Tbs = Tablespoon
* C = Cup
* tsp = teaspoon