By Sophie Gold
If you are avoiding your homework, and have a bunch of over-ripe and spotty bananas staring at you, I have a productive way for you to procrastinate that will make you and your family happy.
My Favourite Banana Bread Recipe
5 overripe bananas, roasted and cooled
¼ cup of melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (but probably more) cinnamon
2/3 cup of chopped walnuts (optional and omit if allergic)
As strange as it may sound, you are going to have to roast the bananas before you start. Otherwise, this recipe does not work and the bread tastes, as my brother says, “wooden”. I promise you that roasting the bananas separately before you bake the bread makes all the difference. Roast the bananas at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes. They will release some liquid and start to turn dark brownish black but do not fear: they are supposed to. The bananas may also have a very strong smell that can only be defined as banana-ish. This smell will go away over time and most likely be soon overpowered by the amazing smell of your baking banana bread. After their time in the oven, remove the bananas from the baking tray and move them into another bowl. Make sure that you preserve the liquid released from roasting, and let the bananas cool completely before mixing them into your batter.
After the bananas are sufficiently cool, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if your oven is possessed and does not work, like mine, you may want to start preheating while the bananas are still cooling just to be safe. Use an 8 by 4-inch bread pan, lightly grease it with olive oil, coconut oil, butter or some other fat, and then set it aside.
Next, find a medium-sized bowl big enough to hold all of the ingredients and accommodate vigorous banana mushing without spilling. Into this bowl, dump the roasted and cooled bananas along with their liquids and mush, mush, MUSH. Mush all of your aggression away until all of the large clumps are gone. Once the bananas are mushed to your satisfaction, and your frustration is gone, pour in the melted coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Note: Melted coconut oil looks identical to water and is extremely slippery, so proceed with caution. Sometimes, it can be helpful to crack the eggs in a separate bowl as opposed to cracking them right into the batter. This way, if you are anything like me, you won’t have to pick out eggshells from your batter, which is no fun. Whisk the wet ingredient mixture together until it is uniform.
Once your wet ingredients are adequately whisked, it is sifting time. Personally, I hate sifting. It’s time-consuming, often unnecessary and emotionally draining, especially if you have to sift large quantities. However, much like the roasting of the bananas, it is necessary for the success of your bread (or so I’ve heard). To sift, I dump the dry ingredients into a strainer (yes, the type that you use to drain pasta) and push it through the holes with a large spoon. You should sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into the wet ingredients. Since the flour is the largest quantity, sifting it will take the longest. Additionally, once most of the flour has been sifted, there will most likely remain pieces of flour that do not want to be sifted; don’t force it because it’s pointless and frustrating. At this point, I usually just dump the rest in, but if you have the willpower to keep sifting, good for you. As for the cinnamon, the original recipe does not call for any. For reasons unknown, my family and I love cinnamon more than the average person, so I dumped in over a tablespoon. I believe that there is no such thing as too much cinnamon, as long as you are not eating it on its own (if you do you will throw up I am told), so feel free to use as much or as little as you like.
After all of the dry ingredients are sifted, trade in your whisk for a large spoon and mix the batter until it is just combined. Ensure that there are no unmixed chunks of flour or dry ingredients sitting at the bottom of your bowl. Once your batter looks like a batter, mix in the chopped walnuts. However, if you have an allergy or just do not like nuts, please do not. I presume that you can substitute other mix-ins for the walnuts, including chocolate chips, dried fruit, other nuts or anything else you have on hand. Whatever you choose to add, gently fold it into the rest of your batter.
At this point, your batter is ready for the bread pan and oven. Pour or spoon the batter into your bread pan as evenly as you can. I suggest pouring it out and then using a spoon to distribute the batter evenly throughout the pan. This is so that one half isn’t taller than the other. If this happens and your bread is uneven, don’t worry because it still tastes the same. Pop it into the oven for 55-60 minutes or until you can stick a toothpick through and it comes out clean. During baking, the heavenly aroma of banana bread will fill your kitchen, as it does mine and, for the moment, all is good in the world.
After the bread is baked through, take it out of the oven and let cool (if you are able to control yourself) before slicing. According to my grandmother, the resident banana bread connoisseur in my family, your freshly baked loaf should last about three days on the countertop and one week in the fridge before it goes bad. If you make too much and are unable to finish it before this time, you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or tinfoil, place it inside a Ziploc bag and store in your freezer for a couple of months.
I promise you won’t be disappointed. To my mind, there’s no such thing as bad banana bread, but this one is special, and not only because there’s no sugar added. I may have redeemed my status as a baker with this one. Enjoy and bring me a piece of yours!
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