One of my favorite, yet basic, everyday foods, is bananas. Whether peeled and eaten plain, sliced thinly and dusted with cinnamon, topped on cereal, or featured in muffins, cake, ice cream, or quick bread, their naturally sweet flavor and moist texture transforms these foods into utmost greatness.
Every time my mom made banana bread when I was little, she would always remember to set aside extra banana purée in a teacup so that I could slowly savor each spoonful. To this day, it still amazes me how an ugly, brown banana’s spoiled flavor can be transformed into a succulent liquefied treat.
When I began to take interest in baking, I deviated from my mom’s recipe and investigated many others. Some were too sweet (more like banana cake), others too dense and yet others too dry. Finally, I came across a recipe entitled Banana Yogurt Bread, which I found on whatscookingamerica.net.
The cup of yogurt in this recipe is really what makes it special. Its flavor is impeccable and its texture ever so moist. The ½ cup of whole wheat flour also enhances the texture, making it more oaty, without adding any wheat flavor to the bread itself. For a special touch, after spraying the bottom of the loaf pan with cooking oil, sprinkle on some cinnamon for a yummy twist! Another idea I borrowed from the Cooks Illustrated recipe for Ultimate Banana Bread (with 6 bananas! (also a recommended recipe)), is to layer sliced bananas on either side of the loaf before it is baked. The slices caramelize in the oven and taste wonderful against this moist bread, enhancing the banana flavor even more!
Banana Yogurt Bread
Makes 1 9×5 inch loaf pan
2 very ripe bananas mashed (preferably overripe) and one yellow to ripe banana, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup (half a stick) salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) vanilla or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray one 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking oil (grease bottom only of regular loaf pan or grease and flour bottom and sides on a non-stick loaf pan). If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon instead of flour.
With an electric mixer, stand mixer or rigorous hand whisking motion, cream butter and sugar just until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in yogurt and vanilla extract until combined.
By hand, stir in the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and baking soda until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in the mashed bananas.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. If desired, slice other banana and layer the slices on both longer sides of the unbaked loaf. Place into oven and bake 55 to 60 minutes, rotating half way through or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Near the end of the baking time, I find I usually have to cover quick breads with tin foil and then poke a hole in the center since the sides are always done before the middle. You will have to do some trial and error in terms of when to cover it. It tends to be in the last 5-10 minutes of baking though.) Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely on rack before slicing.
Adapted from whatscookingamerica.net