Banana Nut Bread: My Own Personal Invention

5 Oct

So I had four way-too-ripe bananas sitting on my counter. This doesn’t happen very often, but it did this week because I accidentally bought bananas on Wednesday, having forgotten I’d also bought some on Sunday. Oops. They’re for H. I don’t eat them because I have this thing where I can only eat a banana if it’s sliced up and most of the time, I can’t be arsed to slice it up.

Well, H doesn’t like overripe bananas, so I thought, “Hey! I’ll make banana bread!” I know, it’s like the most creative idea ever, right?

I’ve never made banana bread before in my life, but I’m reasonably experienced in the kitchen, especially with baked goods, and I figured it can’t be that hard. Of course, cooking anything in Australia always seems to present unique challenges to the American chef, so you never know.

First things first: I got online and found a recipe! Yay for teh interwebz!

I preheated my oven to 175 Celsius (that’s 350 Fahrenheit) and got out a gigantic bowl to substitute for the Pyrex mixing bowl I used to have before G accidentally put it in the recycling bin. I don’t know why he did that and I’m still mad about it.

The recipe called for 3/4 cups of brown sugar. Okay. That’s easy. I measured out three 1/4 cup portions because I don’t have a 3/4 cup and I didn’t want to dirty up more than one measuring cup if I didn’t have to. Dishwasher space is kind of at a premium around here.

brown sugar

Then it called for a 1/2 cup of butter. In America, when you buy a stick of butter, it comes with measurements marked out on the wrapper so you can just slice off how much you need. Not so in Australia. They make butter measuring really hard. I was using an American recipe. Most Australian recipes would give a butter measurement in grams, which means you have to weigh it. So annoying. It means making a lot of little precise cuts to your block of butter until you get exactly the right amount you want. How much is a 1/2 cup in grams anyway? I’ll tell you: It’s 114 grams.

In the last nine months, I’ve had a lot of practice measuring butter this way. I’m going to share my secret with you. It’s a butter conversion website! I use this site all the time when I’m cooking from American recipes. Bookmark it. I promise you that you will need it one day.

So I measure out the butter and get 116 grams and I figure, minus about two for the wrapper, and we’re good to go.

Into the bowl it goes. Notice that little extra square sitting in there? I had to cut that off a piece I’d already cut off to get the measurement closer to what it should be. I’m anal like that and if you ever want to be a good baker, you should be like that, too. Baking is like chemistry. You can’t screw around with measurements or something might blow up in your face and take your eyebrows off. And then you’d look really weird.

The recipe said cream together the butter and brown sugar. Normally, I’d do this with a fork, but today I didn’t for two reasons. First, the butter was a bit too hard still from being in the fridge and it would have been way too much effort to cream it by hand. Second, I really like my Cuisinart mixer which is the nicest mixer I’ve ever owned (my previous ones all came from garage sales or whatever, but my Cuisinart came brand new from a real store!) and I use it any chance I get.

Yes, I realise this banana bread has a lot of calories and I should be doing what I can to burn off my excess fat before consuming any, but I’ve already done two workouts today. When you’ve done two workouts in desert-like heat, you can judge my laziness in the kitchen, but not before then.

But when I was done, it was more lumpy than creamy, so I had to bust out the fork to finish the job. At least the mixer softened up the butter for me, though!

A little bit of fork action fixed the problem.

Next the recipe called for 2 1/3 cups of mashed bananas. Excellent! I have four bananas! That should be plenty, right? No, this is where we run into problems. It turns out that four large bananas only comes out to just under two cups mashed. And I read somewhere that not enough banana can make the bread a bit dry.

Well, this was just no good because, like, I’d already started mixing stuff together. So I started looking online for a recipe that used 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, and 2 cups mashed bananas and also didn’t call for any ingredients I didn’t have on hand, like yogurt or buttermilk, because I was not interested in walking down to the store.

I couldn’t really find anything, so… I decided just to wing it! So from here on out, this is sort of my haphazard creation. I’ll let you know if it tastes good.

So! Two cups mashed bananas and two eggs into the bowl!

Once it’s all stirred up, it should look a bit like vomit. Don’t let that deter you from tasting the batter. At this point, I also decided to add about a teaspoon of vanilla. I figured it couldn’t hurt.

Next is the step where you add all the dry ingredients. I was a bit unsure how to proceed here, since I was no longer following a recipe. I looked at a few to get a general consensus on how much flour to use and settled on two cups. For the baking soda and the salt, I saw wildly different measurements. I decided to err on the side of less is more in regards to those two ingredients. To much baking soda can sometimes make a baked item too dry and crumbly and I was going more for dense and moist. And too much salt can just taste bad. So I settled on one teaspoon on baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. If you’re a putz like me, you’ll drop the measuring spoon into the batter along with the baking soda.

In almost every recipe I have ever come across, the instructions always say to mix the dry ingredients together and them slowly sift them into the batter. I’m not convinced this is necessary and I’ve never bothered to do it. I have yet to suffer any negative consequences from it, either. So I add the baking soda and the salt and then I dump in the flour, usually by 1/4 or 1/2 cupfuls so that it is easier to stir. I figure that way, the soda and salt will still get mixed through thoroughly, if I add them first. If you measure your flour the way I do, then you have to remember to keep track of how many scoops you are putting in. I do this by lining up toothpicks on the counter because I’ve been known to lose count if I try to do it by memory.

I read somewhere that you shouldn’t stir banana bread batter too much because it’s not good for it for some reason, so I just stirred in the flour until it was blended in and no more. I did this part by hand to avoid over-mixing.

I had some walnuts wasting away in my pantry, so I decided to add those. I didn’t measure them. I just dumped in what was left of the bag, but it was probably about a cupful. I like nuts.

Once the walnuts were all stirred in, I poured it into my greased 9×5 loaf pan. In America, I always greased my pans with Crisco shortening, which is still my preferred method. You can’t get Crisco shortening in Australia, so I used the only thing on hand that I had and sprayed it down really well with cooking spray. I’ve had mixed results doing that in the past.

I still had the brown sugar sitting out on the counter and I happen to LOVE brown sugar. I’ll happily eat it by the spoonful. I thought it might be nice to sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on top of the batter before putting it in the oven. Mmmm!

Time to cook it! I wasn’t sure how long it should cook for, so I started with 30 minutes and kept testing it periodically thereafter. It ended up needing 50 minutes to achieve perfection.

Once it’s done cooking, I left it to cool in the pan for 10 or 15 minutes and then came back and dumped it upside down in a wire rack to cool. About an hour and a half later, I deemed it cool enough to slice and eat.

H loved it and ate six slices before I made him stop. That’s why the loaf in the picture is already half gone. I’m not a huge fan of banana bread, so I only had two pieces. Plus, I’m kind of on a diet.

It turned out very moist and tasty, though, just like most other banana breads I’ve ever had. But it was kind of stressful trying to invent a recipe, so next time, I’ll make sure I have the right amount of ingredients before I start cooking. (Actually, I probably won’t. I say that all the time, but this still always happens to me.)

So anyway, here’s the recipe I sort of half invented:

On-the-Fly Banana Nut Bread

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 mashed ultra-ripe bananas (about 2 cups)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)
  • extra brown sugar for sprinkling (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F, 175 C. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

2. Cream together butter and brown sugar. Add eggs, mashed banana, and vanilla and mix well.

3. Stir in baking soda, salt, and flour, being careful not to overmix.

4. Add walnuts if you want them.

5. Pour into greased loaf pan. Sprinkle brown sugar on top if you want.

6. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

8 Responses to “Banana Nut Bread: My Own Personal Invention”

  1. josephinedayco October 16, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    YummO!!! I’ve got some extra bananas to use up, so I’ll definitely try your recipe soon. Can’t wait! 🙂

  2. josephinedayco October 22, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Wow. Now THAT was delicious! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. 🙂 I posted about it and shared the link to your recipe on my blog.

    Thanks again!

    • housewifedownunder October 22, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      Glad you liked it! 🙂 I’ve also noticed banana bread is a lot more popular in Australia than in America. You can buy it just about anywhere here!

      • josephinedayco October 22, 2012 at 10:39 am #

        So true! I never realized how much people loved it here until I saw slices of it sold at the gas station.

  3. Dorian January 20, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Great banana bread recipe, I will try it right now. I have two over-ripe bananas.


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