Ah, banana bread. A perennial favorite. I love finding overripe bananas in the market. They are usually cast aside to a corner and already bagged and weighed so people don´t have to go through the messy business of touching them. Just grab them. Then go home and bake your absolute-best-ever banana bread. Either that or you find blackened bananas in your fridge or wherever it is that you keep them.
I´m very moody with food especially when it comes to baking. Aren´t we all? What if I want to make banana bread and they are all bright yellow and firm; even a bit green? Am I supposed to wait an entire week before I bake? I might not feel like it by then. I was stuck with that dilemma. Yes, life is tough.
I already told you about my trips to the countryside, to my family´s campo (something like a big farm) when I was a kid. There was no electricity so there were wood fires in big chimneys kept alive all-day-long during the winter. We used to throw all kinds of whole fruits and vegetables directly on the embers to cook. Sweet potatoes were our favorite. But we also liked to roast onions (weird), oranges (weirder) and bananas.
The skin completely blackened and the pulp turned sweet, perfect with homemade dulce de leche or just plain. You see where this is going don´t you? Roasted bananas are the answer.
To test my idea I went looking for a recipe I had almost forgotten, but that I´d made many times in the past, because it´s a plain banana bread. No nuts, not even spices. Perfect canvas for my experiment.
The final bread had a clearly-defined, sweet banana flavor. Just what I was hoping for. The sugar on top is a last minute idea because I still have a lot of nutty sugar from the rugelach. Luckily it lasts. As with most banana breads, it tastes much better a day (or two) after it´s baked.
OLD-FASHIONED BANANA BREAD
barely adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Complete Book of Baking
Makes 8 servings
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (115g) butter, room tº
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
3 medium-large bananas, roasted and mashed
2 Tbs milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Extra sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Grease one 11x4-inch (27x9cm) loaf pan.
Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
Place unpeeled bananas on a baking tray and roast until the skin turns completely dark and the inside is lightly soft to the touch. Let cool and mash.
In a bowl combine flour, baking powder and soda. Set aside.
In a bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add bananas, milk and lemon juice. Mix well. Add flour mixture and mix until well combined. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar if desired.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until tester inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto serving plate and cool completely before slicing.
Store, covered, at room tº, for 3 days.