Here is what I know about banana bread. It happens under two circumstances.
One is that you get a craving for it on a Tuesday and then wait for the bananas to become speckled and chestnut in spots. Then you satisfy your needs on Friday.
The other is that you buy more bananas than you, and anyone in close cohabitation, could humanly eat in a three or four day period. The decreasingly yellow fruits make their presence known through aspirations of breakfasts gone by. And you must dispose of them.
The trash is not an option. Banana bread happens when becoming wholly-rotten-to-the-point-of-disbandment is not an option. Or when waiting is the only option. It is a wonderful, strange thing that occurs when either too much or too little planning takes place.
And thus, it is accessible to many types. This is one of the reasons, I think, why it is so appealing. It is likely the person who makes you banana bread is either a good planner or someone who often makes the best of a bad situation. Both types are handy to have around. Particularly with concurrent skills in the banana bread making department.
The last time I made a loaf was November, 2011. I documented it on a trip with some friends to the mountains of New York. (Banana bread is good on trips.) A solid recipe for sure, but arguably a little too bedazzled when simplicity is what you require. It also suffers from inaccessibility with the cardamom-haters that walk the earth.
Then, a few months ago, a classmate brought in two loaves of still-warm banana bread—one with chocolate chips—both served with honey butter. It was the best banana bread ever. The recipe came from the back of a bag of Gold Medal flour. Which should be a lesson to all of us.
Perhaps we should pay more attention to our negligence and to the ordinary. After all, that’s the stuff really good banana bread is made of.
Gold’s Banana Bread
Adapted from the back of a Gold Medal Flour bag
1¼ cups granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 or 4 whole)
½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
Set the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom only of one 9 x 5-inch (or two 8 x 4-inch) loaf pan(s).
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the eggs, bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla and mix on medium-high until fully combined and smooth.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. With the mixer running on low, add the flour mixture in three swift additions. Stir in the walnuts with a rubber spatula until just combined (make sure bits of flour are no longer visible).
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. (Start checking around 55 minutes with the two smaller loaves.) Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack then, with a knife, loosen the sides of the bread from the pan. Let cool one hour before slicing.
Makes one 9 x 5 loaf or two 8 x 4 loaves