Who doesn’t love banana bread? It’s delicious, easy to make, and possibly the best use for overripe fruit ever invented.
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.