Banana Bread

IMG_0706

This banana bread recipe should have been the first recipe on this blog. I like to think of it as my “signature” recipe, if it’s at all appropriate for a complete novice cook/baker to have a “signature” recipe. I’ve made it dozens of times and brought it to many potlucks and dinners with good feedback. It’s easy, quick, and the perfect way to take care of those 3-4 bananas that are looking a little bit too brown for plain eating. You can add chocolate chips (I almost always do), a drizzle of Nutella, or nuts. Or keep it plain, and it’ll still be delicious.

I found this recipe online my 2nd year of college; it’s from the famous Flour Bakery in Boston, MA. I’ve never been to the actual bakery before, but I’d love to one day. Their motto is “Make Life Sweeter… Eat Dessert First!” which, as a serious, non-recovering sugar addict, I agree with completely. The owner, Joanne Chang, also wrote a cookbook (which is where this recipe originally came from, I believe–I found the recipe on Food Network’s website).

IMG_0715

I moved to New York about a month ago, and I’ve already made this banana bread 4 times. I think it was the first thing I baked in my new apartment, actually. It’s perfectly moist, super banana-y, perfect with a bit of chocolate (if you like), and it never gets old.

Banana Bread (from Flour Bakery via Food Network)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional:
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Chocolate Chips
Nutella
Or nothing!

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. I know it says 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, but I’ve always interpreted that very, very liberally. I just dump in a ton of cinnamon until it looks good. I love cinnamon.

In a separate (larger) bowl, mix together the sugar, 2 eggs, oil, and the mashed-up bananas. It can be nice to recruit a minion to help you mash the bananas, be that a roommate, a boyfriend, etc. etc. They will be enjoying the fruits of your labor so get them to help a bit. Add in the 2 tbsp of sour cream (I have substituted heavy cream, yogurt, greek yogurt, milk, or soy milk for the sour cream in the past with fine results). Add some vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient bowl and stir until combined. At this point, you can add in any of the extras you might like. I usually go with about 1 cup of chocolate chips. I’ve never tried putting nuts in, but the original recipe does call for nuts. I’ve also drizzled in Nutella which was heartily appreciated by everyone. Leaving it plain is also just as good.

[Edit: I realize I never included the baking temp and time when I first posted this! Whoops.] Bake at 375 for 45-55 minutes, depending on your oven. It’s done when you insert a knife and it comes out clean.

IMG_0656

IMG_0665

IMG_0703

Last of all, I know this post was a long time coming. I haven’t stopped cooking or baking (maybe I bake a bit less) since starting medical school in New York, but I definitely have much less time to take photos and write about the results. I’ve also just been making a lot of plainer, quicker stuff–rice with kale, simple pasta, lots of salads, quinoa with veggies, etc. Not very exciting stuff to blog about.

What IS exciting: my boyfriend made a video of the banana-bread-making process! See below on YouTube:

Advertisements

Honey Beer Bread

IMG_0625

This is a simple but very good recipe that anyone (over 21!) will be able to put together in less than 30 minutes. And if you’re not 21, I’m sure you can figure out a way to get it done. This bread involves no kneading, no yeast, no rise time, and bakes in less than an hour. Super good when you’re just craving those carbs. The melted butter gives a nice crunch to the edges, and the honey adds a bit of sweetness. It looks awesome, it smells amazing, and it will wow everyone at the next potluck you go to with very little effort on your part.

The best part about this recipe is that you can use any kind of beer in it, and it could be a lot of fun experimenting with different kinds. I’ve made this recipe with 2 different types of beer, and it definitely makes a big difference in terms of how the bread tastes.

My favorite so far has been bread with the Troublesome beer from Off Color Brewing here in Chicago. Malts include “Pils, Wheat Malt, Flaked Wheat, Flaked Oats” and secret ingredients include “Coriander and Lactobacillus.” Don’t ask me any hard questions about beer or “mouthfeel” because I can’t answer those. In fact, I’ll be completely honest and say that this was a beer I found in my boyfriend’s fridge, leftover from his ex-roommate. That is the extent of my knowledge about beer. I also tried making this bread with a different kind of beer found in his fridge, and it was still good, but not as great. Why? I don’t know.

IMG_0609

Honey Beer Bread Recipe (adapted from here)

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
4 tbsp (half stick) butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a regular loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed. The combination will be super fluffy and bubbly.

Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

IMG_0613

IMG_0619

This bread is uber-delicious straight out of the oven, but it’s also fine as lunch the day after. Make sure to store it in an air-tight contained so it doesn’t get stale and dry!