Friday, March 23, 2012

Lavender banana bread recipe

Hello everybody!

Banana bread is one of those recipes that I love baking at home- simple, easy and you can't beat it when it is fresh out of the oven. Only homemade for me, not store bought, unless I get desperate. :)

Some background info on my banana bread recipe "journey", I have tried numerous recipes. A few years ago, I even tried a banana recipe called the "Ultimate banana bread" recipe from Cooks Illustrated. The recipe was very labor-intensive, involving zapping bananas in the microwave to get the juices out, using three times the normal amount of bananas to jam in extra banana flavors, and then adding banana slices as "shingles" on top of the loaf to keep the cake moist during the baking process etc, etc. Imagine my disappointment when the cake was dense (good) but very dry (bad) and didn't have the extra banana kick to justify the extra efforts (very sad). For me, it was not the ultimate recipe I had imagined. So, I continued testing recipes using blacked-overly ripened bananas, using just ripen-speckled banana, using sour cream, switching to using butter cream, adding baking powder, no, no baking powder....yes, I have experimented and tried them all.

That is why when I finally found a recipe combination I liked, I had to share it with everybody. I think I have the best banana bread recipe for me.  Flavorful, no extra, unnecessary steps.  In my opinion, a fine balance between texture, flavor and simplicity that I was looking for. I hope you enjoy it! 

Thanks for reading!

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1-1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature and more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar (Variation: You can reduce this to 3/4 cup for a bread that is less sweet)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (approximately 2 large bananas) very ripe bananas (When you see speckles on the banana skin, it is good enough, they do not have to be blacken or VERY VERY ripe)
1/2 cup greek yogurt (Fage-Whole Milk Greek Yogurt)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tiny drops Lavender oil (Afelier Perfume- Lavender Absolute from France) -Optional
*A tiny note on lavender absolute.  It is very potent.  Don't try to be greedy and add more than 2 drops, unless you want to perfume your whole mouth when you eat a tiny bite of cake  :)  Also, if you decide to cook with lavender oil, you need to make sure it is food grade safe.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf pan and set aside.  Next, in an electric beater fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and until the butter has turned into a paler shade of yellow.  Next, add eggs and beat until the ingredients are well incorporated.  Scrape with a silicon spatula if needed.

2.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add to the butter-egg- sugar mixture and mix until just combined. To the same mixture, add mashed bananas, greek yogurt, vanilla and lavender oil.  Make sure the mixture is mixed thoroughly but do not over mix.

3. Pour mixture into prepared pans and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes. Test with a toothpick or cake tester to make sure the banana bread is completely baked. If the bread still has liquid batter, return the cake to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes and then re-check until it is done. 

4. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then unmold and cool completely on a wire rack.  Cake will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 3 days.  Refrigerate or freeze left overs.

Resource: Silicone spoon used for scrapping batter Medium sized mixing bowl

Source: Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart and inspired by Young Living Circle Blog.

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