Banana Bread: Perfected
Folks, this is my final word on banana bread.
Are you ready for it?
Here it is.
Banana bread is better (no… BEST) with chocolate chips.
And I don’t mean that in an “Everything is better with chocolate” kinda way.
I mean… Banana-flavored baked goods specifically are sent over the top when combined with chocolate, moreso than with any other additive ingredient. It’s just straight science.
You’ve seen me make it plain in Vicki’s Classic version. And you’ve seen me dress it up with a cinnamon sugar swirl, thanks to Kim’s version…
But the bread among breads (I’m 100% sold on it) is banana bread with chocolate chips. What I’ve done here is taken my mom’s classic banana bread recipe, given it a few tweaks in method and ingredient amounts, and of course added chocolate chips. And truthfully it is my last word on banana bread. This is IT… it’s perfect!
The first thing you’ll need is some brown bananas. Normally I use three but I only had two and a half today and that was just fine with me!
By the way, any recipe that allows me to use up old ingredients I would’ve just thrown away is A-OK in my book! That’s why I also love Bread Pudding.
Next thing you need is about a cup of chocolate chips. (These are semi-sweet, but you can use dark or milk chocolate. I don’t discriminate! But don’t use white… and semi-sweet are really the best. So I guess I kinda do discriminate.)
The next step is very important.
Take two tablespoons of salted butter…
and 1/4 C. Crisco (I like butter-flavored)
and melt them together in the microwave to comprise the fat component in this banana bread recipe.
(It’s important that you do this step first so that the fats have time to cool a bit while we mash the banana.)
Ordinarily I use all butter for my banana bread… but the notion to incorporate Crisco came to me from an unlikely source: My dad. My dad will be the first person to tell you he is NOT a chef. But he does make waffles, scrambled eggs, and banana bread like nobody’s business. And one weekend when I was at home visiting him… he made the following bold declaration:
“You know that recipe of mom’s for banana bread? You know how it says you can use butter OR Crisco? Well, one day I just decided to use Crisco in it and it is better. Significantly better than with butter.”
Hmmmm… ya gotta pay attention when a non-chef makes a statement like that. It’s valuable perspective… because you know for a fact that he’s not blinded by his ideology or ingredient-snobbery. He is basing his statement on simple fact. “It just turns out better,” he said.
Hmmmm. This was a hard pill for me to swallow. Crisco? Significantly better than all-butter? Can it be?
But I gave it a whirl, and ya know what? He was right. Crisco helps the bread to stay “risen” after it comes out of the oven instead of sinking in and forming a gooey mess in the center (as my butter recipe often did.) It must provide some element of structure.
So I compromised in my “perfected” recipe. Real butter (for the flavor) and Crisco for structure.
After melting the fats… mash up those gorgeous nanners.
And pour in a cup of sugar.
Now, MAKE SURE the fat is cooled off. And add one egg to it.
Beat the egg into the Crisco and butter lightly, and then add the mixture to the mashed banana. It’ll solidify a bit and look sorta strange. (Crisco IS strange. I keep having to remind myself that, in this case, it’s the better choice. Crisco has its place in cooking. Repeat that after me. Crisco HAS ITS PLACE cooking.)
Stir that a bit with your fork and add a tablespoon of real vanilla.
Set this aside and grab a small bowl. Throw in a teaspoon of baking powder, and a teaspoon of baking soda.
Sprinkle in about a half-teaspoon of salt. (I love salt in baked goods. I NEVER skimp on it. And I add it to any recipe that carelessly leaves it out. Especially frosting recipes.)
Next you need a cup and a half of flour. I love using White Whole Wheat but discovered I had run out today. Bummer! So I used all-purpose and that was perfectly fine!
Stir the flour into the baking soda, baking powder, and salt to combine.
And then… MUY importante…
Add the chocolate chips to the flour mixture before adding it to the batter.
Coat anything you add to baked goods with flour before you add it. Flour helps raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. not to sink to the middle and bottom of the loaf.
Now just mix the flour mixture and chocolate chips into the batter!
And because I’m not being an ingredient-snob today… I’m just going to spray my loaf pan with Pam. Off-brand Pam. See how NOT big of an ingredient-snob I am?
Now, squeal because you realize you forgot to pre-heat your oven to 325. Then say, “Whew” because you remember your oven pre-heats really quickly. But then, feel sorry for people whose ovens take 20 minutes to pre-heat. Then move on about your business and scrape the batter into the greased loaf pan using a rubber spatula to get every last drop.
Smooooooth out the top…
And pop it into that (just in the nick of time) 325-degree oven. Shut the door tight and don’t peek unless it’s through the window.
After an hour…
The best banana bread on this (or any other) planet. Says me.
And that’s my final word.
Well, my final word after this one.
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