Friday, June 4, 2010

Recipe: Banana Bread

Happy Fry-day! ;) Last week a dear friend of mine and I got together and baked some delicious bread! I shared the basic recipe that we used on here last fall, but this is a wonderful recipe that allows for changes in the main ingredient without ruining the texture or flavor of the bread. Today I'm going to share with you the variation my friend and I used last week.

I happened to be fixing the kids a snack and saw that we only had one banana left and it was a bit more ripe than my kids will eat them. We all like our nanners firm and not too sweet, so when they get to where the peel has brown spots it's borderline whether anyone's gonna eat them. When they get nice and ripe to where we won't eat them, I peel them and stick them in a ziplock baggie in the freezer. So I took a peek into the freezer to see if there was a bag of bananas in there already that had room enough for another. Nope... in fact there were 2 quart ziplocks in there that each had about 3 large bananas in them and no room for more. I had to start a new banana baggie. I thought to myself, "Hmmm self, you need to bake something banana-y and pronto!" Then I thought of my favorite bread recipe of course, and how I usually add a couple bananas to stretch it so I can get away with using less of the less-plentiful zucchini or pumpkin main ingredient without affecting the taste or texture. I started pawing around for some frozen pumpkin or zucchini and found a ziplock with about 1 C. of shredded pumpkin, and another with about 2 C. shredded zucchini. Add that to my approximately 3 C. worth of frozen overripe bananas, and I had twice the amount needed to make a batch of bread. So I talked to my friend on Facebook and we decided instead of splitting it up, we'd make a double batch and add ALL three kinds of main ingredient! After discussing the details, we realized we didn't have nuts. This bread is delicious with nuts, but it is also delicious without them! ;) So we didn't let the lack of nuts stop us. Besides, we're both a little nuts (in the funnest sense of the word of course) anyway so who needs nuts in the bread too? ;) We planned who would supply which ingredients and the next morning I drove to her house (my oven gets a kick out of burning things on the bottom so I'm so glad her oven behaved much better than mine does!) and began baking.

Here's the variation we wound up making. It's a terrific (and delicious) way to warm up a rainy spring day by using up leftover fall ingredients! :)

Leftover Pumpkin, Zucchini, and Banana Bread! ;)
5 1/3 C. Sugar
1 1/3 C. Butter (softened)
TOTAL of 6 C. in any combination of the following: grated Pumpkin, grated Zucchini, and/or mooshed overripe Bananas
1 C. Water
8 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
6 2/3 C all-purpose Flour
4 tsp. Baking Soda
3 tsp. Salt
3 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground Cloves
1 tsp. Baking Powder
Cinnamon Sugar (to make, blend 1/4 C. each of cinnamon and sugar) I store my Cinnamon Sugar in a glass shaker with a large-holed metal lid like you find full of parmesan on the tables of pizza places. I got mine at Dollar Tree for... you guessed it! $1. ;)
At least 2 loaf pans
Spray oil (cheap nonstick spray works fine. I personally use the organic olive oil kind we got on sale- yay for sale!)
Foil and a dish towel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bread loaf pans with aluminum foil, spray with oil and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. I find that it's easier to press the foil into the pans without tearing it if you use a wadded up dish towel or tea towel to press it in with. :)
In a large HUGE bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in pumpkin/zucchini/banana, water, eggs and vanilla.
In seprate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and baking powder. Mix well. Add to wet ingredients and mix well. Your arm will feel like it's gonna fall off, but I've never heard of an arm actually falling off due to batter mixing. If they did that I would be armless by now.
Measure out approximately 2 1/2 C. of batter per fullsized loaf pan. Sprinkle cionnamon-sugar generously on top of the batter in the loaf pans for a sweet and cinnamony crust. Bake 2 at a time until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean- about an hour to 1 hr. 10 minutes. When you remove the bread from the oven, the foil on the top should cool pretty quickly to where you can uncurl it from the handles of the bread pan (careful not to touch the bread pan- ouch!) and lift the whole loaf out of the pan by the foil and move it to a rack, foil and all, to cool. This enables your loaf pans to cool faster since they are empty, which is handy if you've only got 2 loaf pans since this recipe witll make about 7 loaves of bread and you'll need to refoil/grease/sugar them and get them back in ASAP so you can be done baking by midnight. Cool your bread almost completely before attempting to slice. Try not to burn yourself as you peel the foil off a loaf and chop off a chunk of deliciousness to snack on as you finish baking. If bread is still hot it will not slice pretty. Lukewarm is okay. It also, for as yummy as it is hot, actually tastes even yummier cooled. But still, if you're like we were, you'll likely be into the first loaf before it's cool. :)

Will store in refrigerator in a ziplock or saran wrap for up to 10 days. Will store in freezer for a month or two- wrap in foil and then put into a gallon ziplock bag and then in freezer. If you baked it in foil lined pans, just wrap the existing foil up and over the top and stick the whole thing in a ziplock in the freezer. Can be left on the counter for up to 2 days, provided it's kept covered between snacking so it doesn't get all stale.
Makes a wonderful gift to say thank you, great to share with friends and neighbors, give as gifts for hollidays, or just keep in the freezer and pull a loaf out when you are in a bread mood or have company.

This is great for a beginner sweet bread. If neither my picky bottom-hot oven nor I have yet found a way to mess it up, it's gotta be difficult to do! ;) You can omit or add more of the cinnamon or cloves to suit your tastes. I love cinnamon but not so fond of cloves in large amounts (LOVE the smell, but I appreciate the taste more in moderation) so you might notice if you compared this variation to the original recipe that I tripled the cinnamon but halved the cloves. Besides, cloves are really pricey. It would have been awesome with nuts, but was still awesome anyway without nuts. Out of the 7 loves, we had totally devoured the first one before the last was finished baking. This is between 3 adults and then there were a couple toddlers who each had a bite or two as well. When we finished baking, there were 3 loaves left for each of us. When I got home I left one out for my family to enjoy and froze the other 2 for later. In hindsight I wish I'd taken one over to the neighbor- guess I'll just have to bake something else tasty to share in the near future!

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