Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Orange-Spice Banana Bread

Can I tell you please that I absolutely love The Best Recipe cookbook by Cook's Illustrated. I recommend it to anyone. Not only did they test almost every ingredient to all their recipes in different quantities and methods of preparation, but they explain their every move, helping an interested cook understand the mechanics behind using different ingredients.

About the banana bread. I have on this blog already the BR's version of this wonderful, easy quick bread. I was about to make it again for the 100th time when I noticed the variations they provided. (Another perk of this cookbook is that they often give you variations to classic recipes. The base recipe is the same, they just give ideas of how to give a zing here or some pizazz there.) There were 3 variations listed, only one of which I had all the ingredients for: Orange-Spice Banana Bread. It was amazing.

My husband is a very traditional sort of fellow (I think that word is funny and like to use it every once and a while) and didn't like the variation as much as the original. He can just be a little borderline boring like that sometimes. I thought it was a great twist to this classic quick bread and I will definitely be trying the other two variations: Banana-Chocolate Bread and Banana-Coconut Bread with Macadamia Nuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bottom only of regular loaf pan or grease and flour bottom and sides of non-stick loaf pan.

In medium bowl, sift:
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. grated nutmeg
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

In large bowl, mix:
3 very ripe, darkly speckled, large bananas, mashed by hand (NOT pureed)
1/4 c. plain yogurt (I use any flavor I have)
6 T. butter, melted and cooled
1 t. vanilla
2 large eggs
2 T. grated orange zest

Lightly fold banana mixture into dry ingredients until just incorporated and you can no longer see flour streaks. This is important. Don't over mix to avoid gluten development that can prevent the bread from rising well. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 55 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top is golden brown.

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