Going Bananas

I’d been thinking about banana bread and craving a warm, walnut-studded slice alongside a cold glass of milk ever since fall arrived with a chill a couple of weeks ago, so I finally rallied and made a loaf just the other day. It was a hard won treat, my road to snack heaven paved with spilled flour and accidentally melted butter, and when the loaf was finally in the oven, it looked as though the kitchen had been ransacked, the results of baking with a baby strapped to your chest (or maybe that is just a convenient excuse for being a messy cook).  But the first piece tasted that much sweeter.

My preferred recipe for banana bread involves creaming the butter and sugar together, a step I know many bakers eschew in quickbreads for the sake of convenience, but I think the tender, slightly more cake-like results are worth a the time it takes, and when you’ve been waiting two weeks for a slice of banana bread, not just any will do. Many recipes also get by with just 6 tablespoons of butter, but like I said, when you’ve been waiting…

Makes one 9×5 loaf

1 C all-purpose flour
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
scant tsp. cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 C packed brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 ripe bananas
1/2 C yogurt or buttermilk, or any combination of the two
1 T honey
8 T butter, at room temperature
generous 1/2 C walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan (I use the butter wrapper for this).
Whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda, and spices. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas, then mix in the yogurt/buttermilk and honey.
Cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended.
Add the dry ingredients alternatively with the banana mixture until everything has been added. Gently stir in the walnuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool at least 10 minutes on a rack before turning out of the pan.

The loaf keeps well for up to a week in a covered container or ziploc bag.

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