Favorite Banana Bread

A few weeks ago I decided to host a banana bread “taste test” for some friends and neighbors. I made my old standby from Nigella Lawson and a new one I’d found in Cook’s Illustrated. We were all overwhelmed by how moist, flavorful, and delicate Nigella’s was compared to the Cook’s recipe, which was quite dense and more appropriately suited for banana bread french toast. I peel, Ziploc, and freeze bananas that get too ripe so they are always ready to use when I get a banana bread craving. Enjoy!

Banana Bread
adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess

scant 1/2 cup golden raisins
6 tbsp or 3 oz bourbon or dark rum
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 small, very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract
9×5 inch loaf pan, buttered and floured or lined with parchment or foil

Put the golden raisins and rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave for an hour if you can, or until the raisins have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain.

Preheat the oven to 325F and get started on the rest. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then, with your spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained raisins, and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture a third at a time, stirring well after each bit. Scrape into the loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. When it’s ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Leave in the pan on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced as you prefer.

Variation: Replace 2 tbsp of the flour with good cocoa powder and add 4oz chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips.