The first time I had this banana bread, I was hooked. The crust is simply divine. Anytime I make this, everyone loves it. Thanks, Jen!
BANANA BREAD – by Jennifer K’Meyer Ludwig
1 stick softened butter (1/2 cup)
3 mashed old medium-sized bananas (the blacker, the sweeter, and ultimately, the better)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda (NOT baking powder! Huge difference!)
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
pat of butter and cinnamon/sugar for topping
Cream the butter in the mixer. Add the eggs and bananas. Then add the flour, salt, baking soda and nuts. Mix until just incorporated. No reason to beat it to death. Pour into a Pam-sprayed or buttered loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until the sides are tannish-brown. The middle should look cooked from a distance, by that I mean ‘cracked’. But after close inspection, the center should still look raw or wet. Perfect. Take that bad boy out of the oven and now comes the 2 most important parts of the bread. In fact, I’ve even made banana breads from a box mix, adding some old bananas and walnuts, and it’s delicious. The secret is in the following steps:
1) As soon as you pull the bread out of the oven and it looks the way I described above, grab a pat of butter (or butter equivalent) with a fork and spread it all over the top of the loaf, getting it nice and buttery. Then before the butter soaks in or dries, sprinkle the bread with cinnamon/sugar. You can buy cinnamon/sugar already mixed. But my mom always used to mix it herself and that’s what I do. It’s cheaper that way, for sure. Anyhow, it helps to put the loaf pan on the drying rack in the sink. That way you won’t get cinnamon and sugar all over the place. The loaf will be volcano-looking, so you know a lot of the cinnamon and sugar will bounce right off of it. That’s why you need the wet butter on the bread to hold the cinnamon and sugar to the bread. Anyhow, onto the next important step…
2) Just after making that delicious crust, take that whole loaf, pan included. Wearing oven mitts, take a big sheet of aluminum foil and wrap the whole loaf with it. That’s right. Wrap the whole loaf with the foil (shiny side facing in) and gently press the foil in so the heat stays inside. Set it on the counter (NOT back into the oven) to work its magic. This will allow the center of the banana bread to finish cooking without overcooking the already-perfect perimeter. Just leave it there until it’s room temp. So probably an hour or so. The whole thing will be fully cooked and moist, too. I somehow backed into this trick because I was trying to rush out the door and the banana bread just wasn’t done yet. And now I will do ALL of my breads like this. It turned out better than I imagined it would.