I don't have many "the best" recipes on this site, because really who am I to claim that one recipe is the best over all other ones in the world that currently exist or are waiting to be dreamed up? What I really mean is that that this is the best banana bread I have ever tasted, but that does not come as trippingly off the tongue for a title, so please forgive any supposed know-it-all-ness or dig to your personal favorite. I'm sure yours is amazing too and I would love to have your favorite banana bread recipe (or any others for that matter--please send). But if you are looking for an incredibly moist, full flavored, chewy-crusted, chock full of walnuts version, I've got the best banana bread recipe for you (well--not the best, but you know what I mean.)
If you know me well, you may find it strange that I even have a favorite banana bread, because (gasp!) I'm not really bananas for bananas! It's a consistency thing I think. My husband and one of my boys, LOVE them, so we often have lots of bananas around that sometimes don't get eaten in time before they go black (not that my hubby would shy away from those, but sometimes I have to put my foot down) so over the years, I've made quite a few loaves with the blackened mushy things, but none have ever wowed me. This one does guys, and it's a problem because I know I'll be making this again and again and no longer will banana bread be something I can easily resist in the house!!
Part of what makes this version so special is the lightness of the crumb which I think comes from beating the eggs with the sugar until they're very fluffy and air-filled, part is the abundance of toasted walnuts scattered throughout (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE 'em!!) and part of it is the chewy crust which I've never achieved with such perfection in any other banana bread I've previously baked. It's the best--there I've said it--nothing new or trendy--just absolutely wonderful and worth letting a pile of bananas get a little too ripe for. Darn it, just when I thought there was one dessert I could easily resist...
The Best Banana Bread
Makes one 9-inch loaf
Prep Time: 15 minutes; Bake Time: 1-1 1/4 hours
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 1/3 cups mashed bananas (from about 3 very ripe, black-skinned bananas)
- 2 tablespoons créme fraiche or sour cream (it's better with the créme fraiche if you can manage it)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1. Make sure the rack is in the center of the oven and preheat to 325ºF. Butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray, a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together and set aside.
3. If you have a stand mixer, afix the whip attachment, otherwise just use a regular handheld mixer and beat the sugar and eggs together for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy (do it for about 8 minutes with a handheld version).
4. On low speed, drizzle in the oil a little at a time so it doesn't deflate all the air you've just beaten into the eggs. The process should take about a minute. Add the bananas, créme fraiche and vanilla and beat on low speed, just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients and the nuts, just until combined--you don't want to over mix as that will toughen the bread but do make sure that all the flour is mixed in and not stuck on the bottom of the bowl. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top.
5. Bake for 1-1 1/4 hours until the top is golden brown and the center springs back when you poke it gently with your finger. If the bread sinks when you poke it, it needs to continue cooking.And if the top seems to be getting too dark, lay a small piece of aluminum foil on top as the bread continues to bake.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then invert and let it finish cooling completely on the rack.
7. Wait till the bread is entirely cool to serve--the flavors need time to develop. Cut into generous slices and dig in! Store the bread wrapped well in plastic wrap at room temperature for about 3 days or in the refrigerator for about a week.
Note: Recipe adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang.