June 2nd, 2008
Its a strange thing really that I find myself baking so much these days. I seem to have developed a sweet tooth in the last couple of years and have found great satisfaction in adding new flavors to classic recipes. The use of orange extract and zest seem to be a common theme these days, my Ginger-Orange Carrot Cake Recipe is a prime example. I have always loved banana bread but am often frustrated that most contain nuts! I do love nuts, but (for whatever reason) do not care for them in my banana bread. I think it has something to do with those small pieces that get stuck in my teeth, they just don't seem to marry well. I find that adding coarsely grated chocolate adds a variance in texture that seems more appropriate, besides, who can say no to chocolate. I have tried this recipe using half unsweetened and half bittersweet chocolate, but I find that the unsweetened is much better complimented by the orange. For me, the bittersweet was just too sweet.
This recipe always turns out to be incredibly moist from the center of the loaf to the ends. This is attributed to the use of the yogurt, as well as the ripeness of the bananas. We use a lot of bananas at our house; as a snack, in cereal, with ice cream. I find that a quick smoothie or bread is a great way to use those bananas that may be too ripe or soft for those other applications.
How to Ripen Bananas
Overripe bananas contain an abundance of natural sugars that yellow bananas lack. However, if yellow bananas are all you have you can speed up the ripening process using your oven (this will not work on green bananas). Right before you are ready to use, place bananas (peel intact) on baking sheet in a warm oven for 15 minutes. Heating the bananas will cause the skins to blacken, while softening, browning and sweetening the flesh.
Orange-Spice Banana Bread Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2½ ounces grated unsweetened chocolate (optional)
3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1½ cups)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon orange extract
The Best Banana Bread Recipe
1. With the oven rack in the lower-middle position, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat a loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate (if using). In a separate bowl, whisk together bananas, butter, eggs, yogurt and orange extract. Gently fold banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined; do not over mix.
3. Pour batter into loaf pan, smoothing the top. Bake until golden brown; to check for doneness, insert a wooden skewer into the center of the loaf ends. It should come out clean with only a few crumbs. You will find that a skewer inserted in the center will not come out as clean, but the batter will settle as it cools. The center will be considerably more moist than the ends but I prefer this to loaf ends that are too dry.
In my oven it takes anywhere from 50~60 minutes.
4. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove from pan and move to wire rack to cool for an hour.