I've been baking for years. Years and years. Since I was old enough to hold a whisk, I've been whipping up pies, pastries, and petit fours like a girl after Martha Stewart's heart. I relish the smells, the sounds, the science of the artwork created by butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. And let us not forget the tastes.
For most, warm homemade breads rank high on the list of comfort foods. Right next to chocolate chip cookies, a loaf of moist, tender-crumbed banana bread feels like that well-worn cotton sweatshirt you've had for decades. It's coming in from a day of sledding in the snow to a warm fire. Cozy and nostalgic.
Banana bread is a classic. A recipe that exists in the heirloomed recipe box of every family. The handwritten treasure of your grandmother, and hers before that. Though, if I'm really being honest, my own beloved grandmother couldn't bake to save her soul. She had one specialty: Irish soda bread. The fact that no one ever ate that loaf, nor dared ask Nana for the recipe might say something about her baking prowess. But we'll just consider my family the exception.
Whether you've got your own favorite recipe for this sweet loaf or not, I'll share with you a true gem. A how-to that will produce the most luscious, the most decadent of results. After baking dozens of banana breads in every which way, with oodles of various mix-ins, I've settled on what I consider to be the best. Sweet banana flavor with creamy, melting white chocolate, warm notes of cinnamon, and the deep roasted taste of walnuts. Each bite is unfailingly soft and supple. Unforgettable on its own, and even more so with a warm mug of tea.
White Chocolate Banana Nut Bread
(makes 1, 9x5" loaf)
Note: This recipe is a slight adaptation from this recipe, created by the Food Network. The original recipe called for white sugar, but I believe brown sugar to be the best option for yielding a moister baked good, so I used one hundred percent brown. I also added cinnamon for a warmer, spicier loaf- a perfect complement to bananas and walnuts. The third, and final, addition I made was my use of white chocolate chips. They offer a subtle sweetness and a rich, creaminess to the loaf, without being as pronounced as semi-sweet or milk chocolate would be. I did not want to detract from the classic flavor notes of banana bread.
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for preparing the pan
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 very ripe bananas, peeled, and mashed with a fork (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (half of a 6 oz bag)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon to a large bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
2. Lightly brush a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with melted butter.
3. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a liquid measuring cup with a spout, set aside.
4. Mash the bananas with a fork in a large bowl. Set aside.
5. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
6. Gradually pour the egg mixture into the butter while mixing until incorporated.
7. Add the bananas (the mixture will appear to be curdled, so don't worry).
8. With a rubber spatula, mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
9. Fold in the nuts and white chocolate chips and transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
10. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
Turn the bread out of the pan and let cool completely on the rack.
It is recommended that you wait until the loaf is completely cooled before slicing, but I personally don't have super-human willpower and therefore could not restrain myself for more than 10 minutes before taking my knife to it. A thick hunk of warm banana bread smeared with a touch of salted butter. "Mmm"ing and "Aaahh"ing may commence.
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