Monday, September 1, 2014

The Best Banana Bread You've Ever Had

I am a huge fan of banana bread and always have been since childhood. My paternal grandmother used to make incredible homemade banana bread that I always looked forward to eating. She and my grandfather lived in another state, so getting to enjoy her banana bread was a rare treat. During childhood visits with her, she would always make sure to either have her special banana bread ready and waiting for us at her house or she would be bring it along with her when she came out for a visit. Everyone loved her banana bread and would gobble it up right away. There was always a special taste to it that no one could quite put their finger on. Even after she passed away, we tried many times to make the bread based off of the recipe she left behind, but sadly, to much avail, it would NEVER taste the same. I think perhaps she left out a secret ingredient from her written recipe so that only her batches would be the best ever from here to eternity. However, some twenty years later I have finally found a banana bread to equally rival hers: 

Jacked Up Banana Bread.

I stumbled upon this recipe from Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago on a whim when I had some very ripe bananas and nothing else to do with them but make banana bread. I adore Deb Perelman's art that is cooking and baking: Both art for the taste buds and art for the eyes in how beautifully photographed all of her incredible creations are. If you aren't hungry now, just wander over to her site and you will be in approximately 2.5 seconds.

According to the Jacked Up banana bread recipe she posted, she obtained the recipe via a friend of a friend and changed it up a little bit, hence calling it "Jacked Up" banana bread because she changed it/jacked it up.

I, however, am calling it Jacked Up Banana Bread because I chose to add a little Jack Daniel's whiskey to the recipe instead of bourbon. So delicious!

I substituted Jack Daniel's for bourbon and reduced the amount of brown sugar to half a cup instead of 3/4 cup-1 cup. The ripe bananas already give it a lot of sweetness, so a lot of brown sugar is not needed, especially if you use four bananas. I also used an electric hand held mixer to mash the bananas and mix all of the ingredients. While using an electric hand held mixer is not necessary, I find it saves your arm from mixing exhaustion and provides a delectably smooth batter. Lastly, I used a oval casserole dish instead of a traditional loaf pan (you can use a traditional rectangular casserole dish). This allows the bread to cook up much faster (which provides for a quicker tasting of the bread!) and allows you to cut the bread into lovely thick square pieces. The preference is completely yours though.

Here is Deb's recipe that I've tweeked just slightly:

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup (75 grams) melted salted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Jack Daniels whiskey
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon (3 grams) cinnamon
Up to 1/2 teaspoon (1) nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With an electric mixer, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and whiskey, then the spices.

 Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a greased  8" x 11" rectangular casserole dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Cool on a rack.

 Remove from pan and cut to serve.

Enjoy this bread anytime of day whether it be for breakfast with coffee, as an afternoon treat with a cup of tea, or as a delicious after dinner desert.  In fact, I am having it for breakfast as we speak while I write this entry. It is already a family favorite.

Here's to delicious eating, friends! Enjoy.

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