I’ve been on a crusade to stop wasting produce. Carefully planning the meal calendar before going to the greenmarket and the grocery works great until one of us (inevitably) ends up with impromptu dinner plans and throws off the plan completely, leaving us with less-than-fresh food. With bananas there is just no excuse since they are generally a breakfast food that we grab as we are dashing out the door to work in the morning. This week though, there were bananas left which meant I was saddled with the burden of making banana bread – yeah, some burden.
I’m a big Mark Bittman fan, and by fan I mean crazed suburban teenage girl at a boy band concert in the late 90′s style groupie. I eagerly await each installment of the Minimalist on the New York Times website each Tuesday/Wednesday and I RSS his blog Bitten. I’ve tried a million recipes for banana bread in my day, but Bittman’s is my favorite for two reasons. 1 – it’s easy and delicious. 2 – it has wheat flour and unsweetened coconut flakes. Also, Bittman himself recommends eating it the next day toasted with peanut butter (don’t mind if I do…)
This is they best way to use leftover bananas that are about to turn. Just mash up the bananas and add them to the creamed butter, sugar, and eggs (I’ve used a stand mixer here, but a hand mixer or flat wooden spoon also work just fine).
The secret ingredient that makes this bread extra tasty is the dried, unsweetend coconut flake that gives it a tropical flavor. Be sure not to use sweetened coconut for this, or you’ll end up with something completely different than what is intended (a toothache-inducing bread).
Be sure to sift your dry ingredients (including the two types of flour pictured above) with a whisk in a separate bowl. Add slowly to the mixture, stopping as soon as everything has absorbed. Do not over-mix.
Grease a bread pan with butter (hint, put a small pat of butter in the bottom of the pan and rub it around the pan with a clean cloth or a paper towel) and flour it, shaking off the excess flour.
Keep an eye on this bread, check it after 30 minutes, just in case. Mine cooked faster than the recipe indicates. Also, try to position the pan on the center rack of the oven, don’t be like me and burn the top by placing it too high. It’s done before you know it. I can’t wait to toast this and eat it with peanut butter tomorrow!
Mark Bittman’s Banana Bread
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
8 tablespoons butter, plus some for greasing the pan (this blogger used unsalted)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork until smooth
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chpopped pecans or walnuts (this blogger omitted)
1/2 grated dried unsweetened coconut
Preheat the overn to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
Mix together the dry ingredients. Cream the butter and beat in the eggs and bananas (this blogger creamed in the sugar as well out of habit – it worked fine). Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients; do not mix more than necessary. Gently stir in the vanilla, nuts, and coconut.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until nicely browned. A toothpick inserted in the center of the bread will come out fairly clean, but banana bread is excessively moist compared to other breads. Do not overcook. col on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. To store, wrap in waxed paper.