Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over 20 years. She has cooked on multiple television stations, including the Food Network.
How to Make the Most Flavorful Banana Bread
When banana bread is good, it's a thing of beauty—moist, loaded with banana flavor, and perfectly sweet, with just hints of vanilla and cinnamon. I stole this recipe from my sister, who made better banana bread than I did, much as I hate to admit it. But once my kids kept saying, "Can you make Aunt Kelly's bread?" I knew I had to adapt.
I did tweak the recipe just a little bit. I added chopped pecans, although you could use walnuts if you like, or skip the nuts altogether. Pecans are just what I usually happen to have.
I love the real vanilla flavor of the vanilla extract. I haven't ever tried to use real vanilla bean, mainly because I think it would be lost here. The extract is perfect. Save your vanilla beans for something where they'll make more of a difference. The vanilla here enhances the banana flavor, not overwhelming it.
Make sure you also use very ripe, or even overripe bananas. Once the skins get dark or spotted, they're good to go. If your bananas aren't ready yet, you can try two tricks. Either freeze them for a few hours, then let them defrost. Or throw the whole bananas onto a baking sheet, and roast them at 350F° for about 20 minutes, or until the skins turn black and they begin to release juices.
I have to admit, a roasted banana is NOT pretty. But you'll get the most incredible flavor you've ever come across with this method. It's a great trick.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 4 very ripe bananas
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350º. Butter and flour a 9x5 loaf pan. Set aside.
- Beat together butter, sugar, and bananas. Stir in eggs, and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Mix in baking soda, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and pecans. Stir well to combine.
- Mix in flour, stirring only until just combined. Don't overmix—overmixing quick breads like banana bread will make them tough.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350F° oven for 60–70 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Cream Together Butter, Sugar, and Bananas
Eggs for Moisture and to Give Lift
Enhancing Flavors: Vanilla, Cinnamon, and Pecans
Mix Thoroughly Before Adding Flour
Add Flour and Stir Just To Moisten
Transfer Batter to a Prepared Pan
Bake Until Golden and Tester Comes out Clean
Allow to Cool Completely—If You Can
Wrap Well to Store
Make Your Own Vanilla Extract!
© 2017 Jan Charles