A couple of weeks ago Bon Appetit published a “Best Ultimate Classic Perfect Recipes” article online. All of the recipes looked very interesting and I decided that I would spend the next couple of weeks trying the baking recipes to see if they really were perfect. My first was Julia’s Best Banana Bread.
I have to say, I made it and it was the best. Super moist, sweet, but not too sweet, and had a really nice banana flavor (I let my bananas get very, very ripe). The only problem was that it fell in the middle. Badly. The recipe said to bake it for about 60-70 minutes, so I automatically set the timer to 60 and walked away. When I came back, the loaf was a little over done, and so sunken in the middle that a hot dog could rest very comfortably. I was disappointed, but I tried it anyway. It was delicious, just a little doughy as you cut your way to the middle. The perfectionist in me needed to try it again, adjusting the baking time.
I bought more bananas and let them sit on the counter for about 5 days. Ok, I may have gotten a little lazy and let them sit a little longer than 5 days. One day, I came home from work and could smell the bananas from the kitchen. They weren’t super dark brown, but the aroma was telling me that it’s now or never. I started prepping my recipe and realized that I didn’t have any vegetable oil. I used the last of it when I baked the first loaf and forgot to buy more at the market. Ugh! I stood there staring at my empty cupboard willing a bottle to appear, but it didn’t work. Then I unsuccessfully tried to talk myself into running out to the market to buy more oil, but the idea of leaving the house again didn’t sound appealing, so I searched for options. There’s always butter, but I wanted to be a little more daring since this was turning into a baking experiment. I thought about sesame oil, but was afraid it would overpower the banana (and it sounded a little gross to me). Peeking out behind the peanut oil and balsamic vinegar was good old extra virgin olive oil. This seemed like my somewhat safest choice. I threw the batter together and put it in the oven. This time I would check the loaf after 45 minutes.
When I checked the bread, there was a nice dome happening, but it was still very shaky even thought the bread was already very brown. I decided to bake it for another 10-15 minutes. Well, it was done, but it fell again the in the middle. Not nearly as bad as the first time, but still it fell and I wasn’t happy. I let it cool and took a bite. The bite quickly turned into me shoving over half of the slice in my mouth. Holy crap this was good! There was such a depth of flavor. It was still sweet, but now, subtle and earthy. I’ll never go back to vegetable oil again. As for the dip in the middle? I think I can live with it. It also could be because my baking soda is a bit old. I should check the expiration date.
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9x5x3” loaf pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
- Bake until a tester inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.