13 October 2010

Freeze them bananas.

And then, of course, make banana bread. A lot of it.

If you have way too many (over)ripe bananas and the fruit flies are congregating, get out a large plastic bag or freezer-safe container. Peel your mushy bananas and stick them into the container. Do NOT freeze them with the peels on: when they thaw, they will be a disgusting and impossible-to-work-with mess. I definitely speak from experience here.

You can keep your container of peeled and bread-ready bananas in the freezer for quite a while, and add more over time (this is why you need a large container). Never worry about fruit flies again, and build up a supply perfect for large quantities of banana bread. Because really, if you are going to bake, why not get your money's worth? I'm going to dirty the Kitchen-Aid and spread flour over the counter anyway, so I might as well produce a lot of food while I'm at it; I always at least double the recipe, usually triple, and freeze anything we won't eat right away.

Once you are ready to bake, get out your container and let the bananas thaw in the sink for a while. They will look very strange and unappetizing as they defrost (my youngest brother calls them slugs) but the flavor is amazing. You'll notice a lot of liquid thawing out of them: I think that whatever "juice" they have is removed by freezing and defrosting, which concentrates the banana flavor. Seriously, bread made with frozen bananas is better. Once they are mostly thawed, drain off the liquid and mash them up. Now get to baking. It definitely works for me!

Anyway, about that banana bread.

I'm surprised that I have not shared this recipe before. It was one of the first things I learned how to make, one of the first I was brave enough to "tweak," and one of the most popular baked goods I have ever turned out (well, maybe a tie with these chocolatey bars and this enormous pie). It rarely lasts for more than a few days, or even hours, depending on who is around. It freezes, travels, and pairs with anything from cream cheese to almond butter. It has been sent in the mail and entered in the fair. And despite the fact that it is 100% whole wheat and sweetened with honey, not one person has ever looked at me suspiciously and said "Okay, what's in this?"

It's good stuff, ya'll. I have three loaves in the oven as I type this, and nothing says home to me like the aroma of banana bread.

So . . . here you go.

My Banana Bread
(original recipe from here, the cookbook with possibly the weirdest cover ever, but this version is different enough to call my own)

1/2 cup olive oil, coconut oil, or softened butter
1/3 cup liquid honey
2 eggs, lightly beaten with fork
1 cup mashed banana
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup hot water

1)Preheat oven to 325 (375 if you want to make muffins).
2) In large bowl, beat** oil and honey together thoroughly. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Whisk in mashed banana.
3) In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture, alternating with hot water and stirring well after each addition.
4) Pour into a well-greased loaf pan or 12 greased muffin cups.
5) For bread, bake for 50 minutes; cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes more, until it tests done in the middle. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and invert onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Or you could slice into it right away, if warm, aromatic, tender banana bread is your thing.
6) For muffins, bake 15-18 minutes, until firm in the middle. Remove from oven, run a knife around the edges, and pop them out to cool on a wire rack.

*Just use regular whole wheat if that's what you have.
**If you have a Kitchen-Aid, use it here. Everything gets incorporated so well, and with this recipe you don't have to worry much about overmixing, unlike muffins or biscuits. Besides, if you plan to make an enormous batch like me, it is way more efficient to let a machine do the work while you run around greasing pans and finding the flax seed in the back of the refrigerator.

2 comments:

  1. I have a bunch of bananas over ripening as we speak (type?) I never thought to PEEL them first! Great Tip!! Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to try out your banana bread recipe. :)

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  2. ha - I definitely freeze them with the peels on and then have to pare them with a knife when I want to use them.
    I want to try your recipe.
    sighhhh
    I *wish* I had a KitchenAid (although I'm not quite sure where I'd put it - counter space and all).

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