Week before last, Keifel asked me to make banana pudding for one of his co-worker’s birthday. I agreed, though I had never actually made banana pudding. It isn’t that it’s difficult or anything. It’s just that since raw sliced banana figures prominently, I can’t eat it. Raw bananas and I no longer get on together. When I was pregnant with Julian, I started having awful stomach cramps in the mornings, way beyond morning nausea. I thought it might be pregnancy-induced lactose intolerance and started pouring soy milk over my Grapenuts and bananas. Turns out it was the bananas and they have bothered my since. Julian won’t even touch one, so I blame him for ruining bananas for me. (Good-naturedly, mind you.)
Anyway, I bought a big bunch of bananas. Only used a couple for the pudding. Keifel will only eat an almost green banana and didn’t get through the rest of them before they got all spangled and spotty ripe. I tossed them in the freezer as is, meaning in the peel. They turn very dark brown but the peel is a perfect wrapper. When I am ready to make banana bread, which I am ever grateful that I can eat since the bananas are cooked (yay!), I just set two or three on the counter in a bowl, the bowl is important lest they ooze all over the counter, and let them thaw. Or if I’m in a hurry I poke some holes in them with the tip of a sharp knife and nuke them on defrost.
Over the years, I have made a great deal of banana bread. If you’re a long time reader you know that I have a bit of an obsession with tea breads in general and tend to do weird left-over quick bread frankencooking. I have stumbled upon what I think is the best banana bread recipe. I am very happy with it, happy enough that I have given up experimenting with it and make it as is.
Hope you enjoy:
Victoria’s Rum Raisin Banana Bread
1 1/4 cups currants
1/2 cup dark rum
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe large bananas, mashed (approx 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1/4 cup plain Greek style yogurt
2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled (6 oz.)
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
Place the currants in a heat proof bowl. Heat up the rum in a small saucepan and just before it comes to the boil remove from heat and pour over the currants. Let this sit while you go about getting the other ingredients together.
Preheat the oven with a rack in the middle position to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9 X 5″ loaf pan. (Though I have baked it in any number of odd sizes, just adjust the baking time). Make sure to tap out all the excess flour so you don’t get a greasy flour lesion on the crust of your bread.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla and stir together until there are no big streaks or chunks of the yogurt. Drain the currants and add them to this mixture and stir to combine.
Dump the wet ingredients over the dry and fold just until all the flour is moistened and looks mixed. Don’t over mix here or you’ll have a tougher bread. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top a little with a silicone spatula or spoon. Place in the middle of the oven and bake until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Depending on your oven, the material from which your bread pan is made, and what astrological house the moon is in, this may take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes. I usually check at 50 minutes and then every 7-10 minutes after until done.
Allow the bread to cool on a rack in the pan for 10 minutes before trying to turn it out. Trying to turn it out straight from the oven usually ends in tears for me, so I have learned to be patient with this one. Allow the bread to cool completely on wire racks and then slice and serve. But, in all honesty, I never allow it to cool completely before I lop off the end and slather it with some unsalted butter and moan over it.
If raisins or their baby cousins, currants, aren’t your thing, you can omit the rum and raisins and substitute 1 1/2 cups of chopped, toasted walnuts. The batter will be stiffer and it does seem to bake a little faster so keep an eye on it.