With or without. The core of one of life's great debates centers around this simple idea. With or without.
The debate was taken up by chocolate bar maker Hershey when they developed the Almond Joy and Mounds bars. Is something better with nuts or without?
I've taken up this debate with my wife and several friends and have come to a nearly perfect split of people who prefer their banana bread with walnuts and those who like it without.
Banana bread, shown here, is a very simple item to bake, even for those who are not good bakers.
For the sake of this recipe, I chose not to include any nuts since my wife does not care for it with nuts, and I am such a wonderful guy that I chose to leave the walnuts in the pantry, awaiting their next opportunity to be baked into a bread, pastry or cookie.
Banana bread is a very simple item to bake, even for those of us who are not good bakers, such as myself.
The art of making breads, pastries, pies and so many other baked goods is one that is not shared by all who love to spend time in the kitchen.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/ 4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (approx. 5 medium)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of one 9x5x3-inch or two 7-1/2x3-1/2x2-inch loaf pans; set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.
In a medium bowl combine eggs, banana, sugar, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in nuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). If desired, sprinkle Streusel Topping over batter.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes for 9x5x3-inch pan or 40 to 45 minutes for 7-1/2x3-1/2x2-inch pans or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean (if necessary, cover loosely with foil the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning). Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.
(From the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
For one, unlike cooking, baking requires a very specific order, patience and keen awareness of the ingredients. Granted, cooking does require some of these at times, but if I use more salt than others on my steak, it's not going to ruin the steak.
Banana bread is a pretty simple bread to make and is a great way to get rid of those overripe bananas that many of us have no idea what to do with once they start to turn brown.
Possibly the greatest bane of my wife's existence is the dozen or more black, frozen bananas that I keep in the freezer. They are not appealing to look at, but they are wonderful to bake and cook with.
You can use any type of banana for this recipe, but I've always found that the riper they are, the more flavor they have.
The recipe for this bread should be followed closely, and as I learned once, forgetting to put in baking soda can change the whole outcome in a very bad way.
In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, creating a well in the middle and set aside.
In another bowl, mix the mashed bananas, eggs, sugar and oil. As you mix, you will find it begins to turn into a thick, creamy conconction and that's what you want.
Pour the banana and egg mix into the center of the well in the flour mix and stir until everything is moist.
Now, this is when you take that leap of faith and proclaim to the world that you are a fan of nuts or that you have no use for them and will not bake with them.
Fold the walnuts into the batter and then pour into a 9x5x3 inch pan or a muffin pan or however you want the bread to appear when it is finished.
The size and type of pan will determine how long this will bake, so it is important that you keep and eye on it while in the oven and periodically check it by sticking a toothpick into the middle. If there is wet batter on it, it is not done.
A tip from the fine folks at Better Homes and Gardens say that if you are worried that the top of the bread is beginning to brown too much, loosely place foil over it for the last 15 minutes of baking.
That's it. Even those of us who are baking challenged can whip this up in less than 20 minutes and have it ready to eat in about an hour.
The recipe says to let it cool, but I love cutting a piece while it is nice and warm. Spread a little butter over it and enjoy.
It makes for a good, quick breakfast or snack but is not great for making any type of sandwich.
I won't say that you can't try to do that, but I would not suggest it.