|Banana Bread by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
Banana bread is a humble but reliable creation, and because it uses dead-ripe bananas, it's the frugal baker's best friend. There are hundreds of variations of this basic quick bread, probably the first baking project most young cooks will try at home. I'm not the most accomplished baker, but after 30 years in the kitchen, I still make banana bread. Primarily due to the fact that we always buy bananas at the store, and frequently they get too ripe for our tender palates. I have a drawer in the bottom of my freezer where I stash the overripe fruit. Every now and then, especially when I have buttermilk on hand, I will make this easy banana bread and enjoy it warm from the oven, crumbly and tender, with a cup of tea. And maybe a shmear of softened cream cheese.
This recipe is from a cookbook from Pleasant Hill, the Shaker community in Kentucky. Appropriately, it's a simple bread, not gussied up with spices or nuts or chocolate, although it could be a blank canvas for experimentation. I usually double it, to use up more bananas and buttermilk. The instruction for adding the leavening is unusual - first add one cup of flour, then stir baking soda and salt into the remaining flour before adding to the batter.
Best Ever Banana Bread
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 bananas, mashed, to equal 1 cup
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream butter and sugar in bowl with electric mixer. Beat in eggs and bananas. Add one cup of the flour and half of the buttermilk alternately. Add salt and soda to remaining flour. Stir in second flour mixture and end with remaining buttermilk. Turn into well-greased 9 X 5 loaf pan. Bake at 325 for one hour (per cookbook, mine take up to 1 hour and 15 minutes to bake).
Don't have buttermilk on hand? Try using an equal quantity of sour cream or plain yogurt. If you have Greek yogurt, thin it slightly with milk or water. To make a buttermilk substitute, pour slightly less than 1/3 cup milk in measuring cup and add 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes, then add to recipe.
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