August's warm days and cool nights are a welcome harbinger of the lovely fall season that's just around the corner. As you anticipate those crisp autumn days, why not whip up some banana bread? It's a family favorite at my house and it's a great way to use up those ripe bananas on the counter.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for a good 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated; no need to overly blend. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Don't get nervous if the banana bread develops a crack down the center of the loaf; that's no mistake, it's typical. Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning.
Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Toast the slices of banana bread, dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve.
MAKE IT LIKE MY FAMILY DOES: I modify this basic recipe by decreasing the sugar to ¾ cup and adding 2T of Saigon cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg to give it a nice spicy flavor. I also alternate pecans for walnuts, crushing the walnuts and sprinkling them on top the loaf as garnish before baking. The crushed walnuts take the place of the confectioner’s sugar.