Saturday, July 25, 2009

Organic Banana Bread

I love organic bananas! Our shares from Annie's Buying Club have been providing us with plenty. Organic bananas really do taste so much better than the conventional kind. I find conventionally-grown bananas tend to taste sickeningly sweet and turn to a disgusting, pasty mush as they continue to ripen. For some reason, organic bananas don't seem to do that. They are still just as tasty, even when they're completely brown, and begging to be baked into a special treat. Not having to toss overripe bananas at the end of their useful life is another plus in choosing organic.

I've been freezing peeled, ripened bananas in zip-top bags and tossing them whole and still frozen into the blender for breakfast smoothies. At one of our recent buying club pickups, each family was sent home with TWO giant bunches of bananas, so we still had plenty, even after freezing a batch. Time to make banana bread :)

Here's another mouth-watering recipe, based on one originally posted by Shelley Albeluhn to Allrecipes.com for her "Banana Banana Bread". The name says it all! Just like when I made my Straightforward Carrot Cake, I wanted the main ingredient to stand out. Shelley's recipe does an awesome job of doing just that. I made a few tweaks, like using organic bananas, and also substituting some of the white flour for organic whole wheat. I also occassionally bake banana bread cookies, but they're not exactly healthy (they're loaded with shortening). But they do involve a little touch of vanilla extract, which I then decided to add to this banana bread, too. A few reviewers of Shelley's original recipe reported trouble getting the banana bread to bake evenly, so I poured my batter into a metal bundt pan, and also lowered the baking temperature, as I do with my Sour Cream Pound Cake. That worked out perfectly. We've since made two batches of banana bread, as hubby eats about 1/4 of a whole loaf by himself in one sitting. LOL! The little kitchen helper had fun assisting mommy in putting this together, too. I peeled the bananas and put them in a large bowl and gave her the potato masher, and away she went! I imagine that would be a great stress-buster for adults, too. LOL! Here's the recipe:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
0.5 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 and 1/3 cup mashed overripe bananas (about 5 medium bananas)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly spray a metal bundt pan with cooking spray (I use PAM for Baking).

In a large bowl, stir together the two flours, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar, until light and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla. Mix in the bananas and combine well. Spoon in the dry ingredients, blending until it just comes together. Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan.

Bake for about 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool the banana bread for about ten minutes, before turning out on a wire rack to finish cooling.
This banana bread freezes really well. I pre-slice extras, and store them in a zip-top bag in the freezer. A few seconds in the microwave is all it takes to warm them back up and enjoy :)

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