As the temperatures plummet into the teens around here, I found myself longing for a warm loaf of banana bread. I already have a recipe that I love, but part of the fun of being in the kitchen is experimenting, so I went in search of something new. I found this recipe and was encouraged by its 4.5 star rating with over 1,500 reviews. I knew there were a few minor changes I wanted to make, but nothing that strayed too far from the original. All I knew for sure is that I wanted to add peanut butter chips, because, well, that just sounded ridiculously tasty. I also replaced half of the sugar with brown sugar, because I enjoy the extra softness and rich flavor it adds to quick breads.
One complaint I see repeated over and over in online recipe reviews for banana bread is that it is flavorless, or that there isn't enough banana flavor. Please remember that you absolutely must use very ripe bananas when baking a loaf of bread to get the strongest flavor. Those bright yellow (or, ick, green) bananas fresh off the truck at your local grocery store just aren't going to cut it. You want the peels to be nice and spotty and the insides soft.
It doesn't matter how great a recipe is, if you use hard, yellow bananas in your bread it is not going to taste very good.
If you only have underripe bananas available, have no fear! Preheat your oven to 300F, line a sheet pan with parchment paper (to make clean-up easier) and bake the bananas for anywhere from 25-40 minutes until the peels are totally black and have burst open just a little bit. Let them cool and then scoop out the insides and proceed with the recipe. Works every time.
This bread bakes up differently than I'm used to. Instead of rising into a high dome, it stays flat on the top and develops a dark golden brown crust. I was a bit nervous while peering through the oven door window and watching this thing darken alarmingly fast without rising. Nevertheless, I pressed on and took solace in the fact that my kitchen was starting to smell absolutely amazing.
Once it came out of the oven and had been turned out onto the cooling rack, I chuckled and joked to my husband that I'd just baked a brick. Once I sliced into it, however, I found out that I was dead wrong. It is a dense bread, yes, but it is also sooooo moist. I was afraid that the crumb would be tough and chewy, but it stayed very tender. After cooling and sitting on the counter wrapped in aluminum foil for a while, it got even better. The peanut butter chips were an incredible addition to the rich banana flavor, but I don't have to tell you that. Peanut butter and bananas always play nice together.
This recipe is a keeper. I hope you enjoy.Print
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