Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Best Banana Bread...Ever

The recipe I'm about to share with you is a very special one.  I've actually been sitting on my couch for the last twenty minutes debating if I should share it publicly because it's taken so long for me to make it perfect...but the smell of warm banana bread with a hint of cinnamon is wafting into my living room and bringing out my soft side, and I feel like it would be morally unjust not to spread the happiness that this recipe brings around to everyone!  I'm going to start by saying that banana bread is one of my all-time favorite desserts.  It's just so comforting, light, fluffy, it somehow feels healthy (even though it isn't), and tastes great anytime of the day, even for breakfast!  Usually, I make a recipe once, and if I like it, and then other people like it, I consider it a keeper.  This recipe, however, is a combination of 2 family recipes, a helpful tip from my friend's mom, and a new twist I added on my own...COCONUT!  I've baked this recipe close to a hundred times, experimenting with different additions each time, and can honestly say it's finally perfect...every single batch I share with people yields at least one response saying "this is the best banana bread I've ever had!"

The recipe is so easy, and I mean it.  I'm talking not even having to separate the wet and dry ingredients into separate mixing bowls level of easy.  Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Then add all of the ingredients together into the mixing bowl except the chopped banana and cinnamon sugar.  Stir until well-combined.  One tip: make sure the bananas are ripe, at least to the stage where they're yellow with a couple of brown speckles.  Sometimes when I know I don't have time to make banana bread, I just pop the last 1 or 2 from the bunch that I haven't eaten into the freezer and thaw them in a Ziploc bag in warm water about a half hour before I plan to make the bread (the same way you thaw chicken breast that you've kept in the freezer).  It works out perfectly!

Next add the remaining chopped banana to the  the bread mixture, gradually folding so the banana bits maintain their shape.  I love reserving one of the bananas and cutting it into chunkier pieces so you can actually get bits of banana in the bread. So delicious!  Transfer the mixture to a 9" x 5" loaf pan that is coated with non-stick cooking spray, and then sprinkle the top of the loaf with brown sugar and cinnamon sugar.  To be honest, I really don't measure this part, I just cover it evenly so it looks pretty but you can still see part of the bread.  If you want to get fancy, add a little extra coconut to the top!

The bread will take about 50-60 minutes to cook completely.  It depends on the day, but sometimes I cover the top of the bread with aluminum foil after 40 minutes if it looks like the top is getting too brown before the inside is done; sometimes it's fine uncovered though!  Once the timer goes off, poke a butter knife into the the center of the bread.  If it comes out relatively clean, it's good to go!  If there is batter on the knife, it needs more time.  Hope you enjoy the bread and the same scents of banana and cinnamon I have in my apartment right now :)

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