Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hazelnut Banana Bread

It's good to be back in the swing of things. And with stellar banana bread at that. And Downton Abbey.  Oh mah gahhh, Lady Mary's wedding (and wedding dress)! Will Downton survive? Is Edith really going to marry Sir Anthony? And goodness, will Bates be set free?! So many questions.

A few things are certain. The Dowager Countess will have at least a few good one-liners each episode, Thomas will be an asshole (there's no polite word for it), the fashions will be incredible, and I will want to eat a whole loaf of banana bread. 

Banana bread is simple. Flour, ripe bananas, salted butter, an egg, vanilla extract, hazelnuts, baking soda, a bit of extra salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar.

Yeah, I'm still using pumpkin pie spice. Well you might as well, or it'll lose its potency by next year. Plus it's all the spices I love-- cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, etc. 

Mix the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt with the hazelnuts. I chose hazelnuts simply because I had them in the cabinet. Walnuts or pecans (or no nuts at all!) would be fine substitutions.

Ripe bananas are crazy easy to smush with a fork. 

Add the butter and brown sugar to the bananas. I used salted butter because it was in the fridge, but you can of course use unsalted and add a little more salt to the flour mixture.

Add the egg and stir it in.

Then follow it with the vanilla. 

Adding the flour is the final step. 

It's a thick batter with a gorgeous caramel color. I couldn't resist sneaking a taste.

I lined my loaf pan with parchment paper, but buttering and flouring the pan works just fine.

The crust is a deep golden brown when it's ready and has lovely cracks that let you know the baking soda worked.

The inside is somewhere in the middle between light and dense and so very tender.

It needs butter about as much as Pinterest needs another crock pot recipe. But! It's bread and bread is supposed to be buttered, right? Legit.

Hazelnut Banana Bread (makes one 8x4 loaf)

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt (Note: If using unsalted butter, use 1 tsp)
1/2 c hazelnuts, skins removed and roughly chopped
3 ripe bananas
1/2 c salted butter, melted
3/4 c brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare an 8x4 loaf pan by either buttering and flouring it or lining it with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, PP spice, and salt with a fork. Add the hazelnuts and gently mix in.
  • In a larger bowl, smash the bananas with a fork until mostly smooth. Pour in butter and brown sugar and stir to combine. Add the egg and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and gently stir until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let the bread cool in the pan 5-10 minutes and run a knife around the edges to loosen it. Pop the bread out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack. If you used parchment paper, you can just lift the bread out of the pan. Serve with salted butter if desired.

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