Thursday, August 28, 2008

Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup stick margarine or butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
1/2 cup buttermilk (yogurt or soured milk are great substitutions)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9 x 5 x 3 inches, with shortening.
2. Mix sugar and margarine in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. [Mix the following ingredients in separate bowl before adding to original mixture, this helps to prevent baking soda pockets from occuring.] Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in the nuts. Pour into pans.
3. Bake 8-inch loaves about [45 mins -]1 hour, 9-inch loaf about [1-] 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pans on wire rack. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely before slicing [NOT necessary, but definitely for about 10 mins]. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.
*If using self-rising flour, omit baking soda and salt.
Cook's notes: I have found that the 8-inch loaves cook more evenly than the 9-inch. Additionally, if you can find seamless bread pans, then it is incredibly easy to get the finished loaves out. I frequently replace the buttermilk with yogurt if I have it on hand (since it's abnormal for me to have buttermilk on hand). You can also make "buttermilk" on your own if you do not have any by combining 1 C milk and 1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice and letting it sit for about an hour (this will make double what you need for this recipe, but you half that mixture). Also, spoiled milk works wonderfully in substitution for buttermilk! I typically mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl before adding to the recipe, otherwise you risk having pockets of baking soda (yuck!!!!), this frequently happens when I am being lazy.

Prep time:15 min; Bake time:1 hr
Source of recipe: Betty Crocker's New Cookbook

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