EnlargeCredit: Todd Coleman
Inspired by Dan Koeppel's article about the uncertain fate of bananas (see Fruit of the Future), I recently went on a baking spree in the SAVEUR test kitchen and was reminded of just how adaptable this quick bread is. For the first few batches, I decided to depart from the standard lineup of ingredients. In one version, I used raisins in addition to the customary nuts. In another, I used butter instead of oil, which resulted in a drier crumb; that banana bread tasted great warm with some strawberry jam. In yet another, I omitted the baking soda (which causes bananas to darken), resulting in a blonder hue. I even made a loaf containing whole chunks of ripe, creamy banana. No version satisfied me more, though, than my very own mom's. Her recipe calls for oil, buttermilk (for a pleasant tanginess), and no fewer than three bananas. Mom's squat loaf has a sugary crust and a dense, tender crumb studded with chopped pecans. Trying to improve on perfection, I increased the amount of buttermilk to create a fluffier version, but beyond that, I didn't mess with a good thing.