Banana-Pecan Bread

This recipe is a slight variation of one with whom Rick Nelson’s name is attached in a recently published Star Tribune article. He suggests adding walnuts but I grew up in the south where the pecan is the queen of nuts.

There’s no hard and fast rule here so feel free to substitute English or black walnuts for the pecans. Or, if you are one of those purists types that don’t care for nuts in your food, by all means leave them out. I also have a recipe for a Black Wanut and Coconut Banana Bread and one for a Chocolate Banana Bread.

If you decide to add nuts, toasting them in the oven (on a sheet pan at 350 degrees F until fragrant) or in a dry skillet on the cook-top will bring out the most flavor. Other ingredients you might add include sour cream, coconut (both are added in the recipe below) or even a ½ cup of the best semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips you can get your hands on.

Next time if 2 1/2 mashed bananas end up making a cup, I’m adding the remaining half. I discovered after the fact that other recipes of similar portions call for up to 4 bananas. I may also subsitute a bit almond flour (maybe 1/4 cup) for some of the all-purpose flour.

Makes 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves

1 3/4 cup (8 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pan(s)
1/3 cup (2 ½ oz) packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (2 ¼ oz) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 to 3 bananas)
1/4 cup (2 oz) sour cream (optional)
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut (optional)
About 1/2 cup (2 oz) pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 5 x 9 x 3-inch loaf pan or 2 approximately 3 x 6 x 2-inch mini-loaf pans. Line the long sides with parchment paper leaving the sides with an overhang of paper.

Place a sieve over a medium bowl and measure or weigh out the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; sift and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time beating until combined before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla extract and if including, the sour cream. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in thirds, alternating with mashed bananas and beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Fold in pecans and if adding the coconut now’s the time to fold it in too.

Scrape batter into prepared pan(s) and bake until nicely browned and a tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out fairly clean (with bananas, this bread is moister than most) about 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.

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