My fella loves bananas. But they have to be just so. Not too firm, but not soft or squishy. They must be just this side of green, and definitely without any black spots that inevitably appear as the fruit ripens. Tired of tossing that last one of the bunch that ripened a day too soon, and not wanting to attract fruit flies (read what do if those pests appear here), I started freezing them. And what a difference that made in my banana bread.
Like so many people, I turned to the kitchen to stay busy during the COVID lockdown. With plenty of bananas in the freezer, my mission was to find the BEST recipe for banana bread. I tried eight or nine different recipes, then honed in on the one we liked best, tweaking until it was (modestly speaking LOL) perfect. The winning recipe is based on a recipe for Smashed Banana Bread from Food & Wine. As you can imagine, we ate a lot of bananas and a lot of banana bread in 2020. (Really, we ate a lot of everything during COVID to avoid going stir crazy.) So here is our favorite. Here’s hoping you enjoy it as much as we do.
A couple of notes first:
- Thaw the bananas in a bowl in the fridge overnight, or for about an hour on the counter. Reserve the liquid they release.
- If you can find it, get the banana liqueur. It really adds to the banana-y flavor, and also tastes great poured over a bowl of good vanilla bean ice cream. I like Bols for the flavor and pretty bottle, but the Dekuyper is about half the price.
- Sour cream or full fat Greek yogurt work equally well.
- The bread tastes the most amazing after it cools when the edges are still a bit crispy.
- You’ll need a baking sheet, metal loaf pan, parchment paper, nonstick cooking spray, and a cooling rack.
Pieces & Parts
½ cup pecans, chopped
1½ cups flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp fine sea salt
2 large eggs
4 frozen bananas, thawed, and their liquid
¼ cup + 2 tbsp sour cream or full fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp banana liqueur or dark rum
5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (if desired)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Grease the loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray
- Line the pan with parchment paper, allowing two inches of overhang on the long sides
- Toast the pecans on a baking sheet in the preheated oven for about seven minutes until fragrant. Cool.
- Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the bananas, the banana liquid, sour cream, vanilla, and banana liqueur until combined.
- Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about two minutes.
- At low speed, gradually beat in the wet ingredients until just incorporated, then beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix. Fold in the pecans.
- Scrape the mixture into your prepared pan, and bake in the center of the oven for about an hour and 30 minutes. Because some ovens can bake more quickly than others, check the bake at 60 minutes and again at 75 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf. The bread is done when the toothpick comes out clean.
- Set the pan on a cooling rack and rest for 45 minutes.
- Turn the bread out of the pan and cool for 30 minutes more.
- Dust with confectioner’s sugar if you like.
Wrap in cling wrap and store at room temperature.
We always fight for the end piece as soon as it’s ready to eat (those crusty edges!), but wind up sharing that slice ’cause we like each other. My guy loves to slather the bread with softened butter; it’s also great toasted (and buttered).
I recently brought this banana bread to a friend’s breakfast party. She served eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, and toast – a bounty! But the six of us still managed to devour an entire loaf of my banana bread on top of everything else in that one sitting. Just sayin’.
I hope that now you look at overripe bananas as a bonus instead of a waste, and go as bananas for this bread as we do.