I have been baking for as long as I can remember. Banana bread, in particular, evokes memories of my childhood, when I would often be tasked with giving our too-ripe bananas new life. I have made many iterations of banana breads over the years, but I have found that the key is to be flexible. If you have whole wheat flour, replace some of the all-purpose flour with it. If you have cinnamon, add it. Consider using brown sugar instead of white. If you don't have walnuts, try something else instead. Here is the latest iteration that I tried, which happened to yield fabulous results.
Bourbon Banana Nut Bread
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated and my cousin Justina who so kindly shared this with me.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/4 cups roughly chopped walnuts (or pecans, or pistachios, or whatever you have on hand)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 3 ripe bananas (1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
- 2 teaspoons coarse flavored sugar (optional)
Adjust rack to lower-middle and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9x5x3" pan.
Toast or pan roast nuts for 5-10 minutes to deepen flavor. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and nuts; set aside. Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, bourbon (if using) and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Lightly fold the wet banana mix into the dry mix with a rubber spatula.
Pour batter into pan and sprinkle the top with coarse flavored sugar. Liberally, if you are so inclined.
Bake for about 55 minutes. Test in the middle to make sure it's done. If the tester comes out gooey, check another spot as you may have hit a chunk of banana, as I did.