February 23rd marks National Banana Bread Day — a day that’s definitely worth celebrating, in my opinion. What better way to honor this glorious occasion than by whipping up your very own loaf? Some may think that the process of baking homemade bread is complicated or time-consuming, but banana bread is actually one of the easiest and most flexible recipes to bake from scratch. Since it’s a “quick bread,” there’s no need to knead and no waiting around for the dough to rise before baking, making it ideal for those who want their carbs in a hurry. Here’s a very easy, basic banana bread recipe that leaves room for experimentation.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
½ cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups of flour
Pinch of cinnamon
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease either a bread loaf pan or a brownie/cake pan, depending on the style of bread you prefer.
2. In a bowl, cream the shortening and sugar together using an electric mixer if you have it, or with a wooden spoon.
3. Add the eggs and bananas to the mixture and blend well.
4. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and stir thoroughly until the dough is sticky.
5. Pour the dough into the pan and, depending on the size of the pan, cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the bread is golden brown. Watch the bread carefully: when a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, it is done.
Mix It Up
Here are some cool ideas for add-ins to create different flavors of banana bread that suit a wide range of tastes.
This is a must for chocolate lovers. In my experience, the best way to get the full chocolate experience out of your banana bread is to mix some semisweet morsels into the dough. This way, each bite will have a chocolate surprise. For additional chocolatey goodness, sprinkle even more chocolate chips on top of the bread when it comes out of the oven so they can melt a bit on top, as well.
One way to get more nutritional goodness out of the bread is to swap your conventional bleached flour for whole-wheat flour to increase your whole-grain and fiber intake.
Fresh and dried fruit:
Bananas go hand-in-hand with other fruits, so if you tend to crave things more on the fruity side, try adding some dried cranberries or raisins on top for a fruity twist. Or, if you’re more into fresh fruit, add some fresh raspberries, blueberries and strawberries on top after the bread has cooled, or bake them directly into the dough. The berries add some juiciness to the bread and, not to mention, great nutritional benefits.
If you crave a little crunch, add in walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts or pecans. Nuts add a nice texture to banana bread while cutting the sweetness a bit.
For some extra sweet richness in the bread, add a couple tablespoons of honey to the batter or drizzle some honey on top of the bread after it is cooked.
This may sound strange, but if you’re not a nut person and still want a crunchy element to your banana bread, try sprinkling some Honey-Nut Chex cereal on top. Doing so will add a sweet, crunchy twist to traditional banana bread.
Peanut butter and bananas are a match made in heaven. So naturally, peanut butter and banana bread should be, too. Microwave peanut butter for about 20 seconds so you can drizzle it on the bread. Another option is to spread some peanut butter on the individual slices. Either way, it’s delicious.
Peanut butter cups:
There’s no way you can go wrong with baking some miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into your bread for extra decadence. Or chop them up and sprinkle them on top of the bread right out of the oven so they melt and create a gooey, peanut butter-chocolatey layer.
Fun Facts About Banana Bread
-More bananas are sold more than any other fruit in the United States.
-The average American consumes 28 pounds of bananas each year.
-Banana peels are actually great for polishing leather shoes.
-Banana breads are considered “quick breads,” meaning they don’t need yeast. Most banana bread recipes usually use baking powder instead.
-The first banana bread recipe was published by Pillsbury in 1933.