January 31, 2007

basic banana bread

I described this as basic because lately I've been trying out many different recipe variations for this favorite snack. I've also tried making banana muffins, banana cakes, banana pancakes, etc. I've tried so many interesting substitutions and additions to these recipes. I've successfully replaced the usual raisins with dried cranberries, experimented with whole wheat, oat flours, added bran and even wheat germ for healthier alternatives. But this particular one is the most basic recipe I have on file which we often used in Manila. Basic but definitely not boring, the banana variety we have in the Philippines are smaller but much sweeter than the varieties here. We call them "lakatan" and their color is also a deeper yellow compared to the Dole bananas in the market. Possibly has something to do with the harvest time of the bananas. The Dole bananas exported from the Caribbean are always harvested while they're still green but in the Philippines, where they are naturally grown, they can be harvested at almost ripe stage and delivered to the markets where they need only a little more time to ripen fully. I remember buying the sweetest and the best ripe "lakatan" bananas directly from fruit stands along Tagaytay ( where they're also locally grown ) highway. These tropical fruit stands are a popular stop for tourists visiting the countryside. I can't wait to make banana bread with those sweet bananas again, but in the meantime, this recipe works great with any ripe banana variety.

Basic Banana Bread

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup or 1/2 stick butter or margarine
2 large eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh milk
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts ( optional )

Grease & flour a standard 9" x 5" size loaf pan or use two smaller loaf pans. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, cream softened butter or margarine with the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture & milk, ending with the flour. Stir in mashed bananas & walnuts. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until done. Avoid over baking to prevent bread from drying out.

banana muffin version

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