Sunday, December 7, 2014

Browned Butter Banana Bread

If you're like me, you never manage to use up all your bananas before they turn brown and mushy. I think it's just a rule for life: no matter how few bananas one purchases, at least one of them will be destined for banana bread (or for the freezer for banana bread later). And you know what? I'm okay with it . . . because who doesn't love a good loaf of banana bread?

This recipe is particularly lovable. The browned butter adds a warm, cozy depth of flavor. It tastes sufficiently banana-y, and has just the right amount of sweetness for my taste. The topping adds a nice crunch and lets you alternate sweeter bites (with topping) and less sweet bites (without topping).

This banana bread uses only one banana, and thus less of the rest of the ingredients. So it yields a slightly shorter loaf than most quick breads, which also means it's easier to cook it all the way through without the outside being overly cooked and dry.

Also, happy Christmas!

Browned Butter Banana Bread
Adapted from The Faux Martha
Yield: 1 loaf

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour*
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup milk**
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ripe banana

1 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
2-4 Tbsp. chopped pecans and/or walnuts

Brown the butter: Melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Continue to cook until it's golden brown and smells like heaven, swirling the pan periodically.*** Allow to cool completely.

While the butter cools, make the crumb topping: In a small bowl (I used a cereal bowl), combine 1 Tbsp. softened butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Use a fork or knives to combine the ingredients until they're crumbly. Add the chopped pecans and walnuts and stir to combine well. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 300. Spray a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients for the bread: flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: cooled browned butter, milk, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Add banana, mash, and whisk well. At this point, my butter decided to solidify again because my milk was pretty cold, but my bread still turned out just fine. Just whisk it well so you have small clumps of butter instead of giant globs.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir just until combined. Don't work it too much. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with the crumb topping. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire cooling rack, and allow the bread to cool completely in the pan. Then loosen the loaf from the pan, and turn out onto a cutting board to cut and serve.

*The original recipe called for 1/2 cup all-purpose and 1/2 white whole wheat. Use whatever combination strikes your fancy and fits with what you have on hand.

**Original recipe called for 1/3 cup liquid comprised of 1 part milk and 1 part plain yogurt. I didn't have yogurt on hand so went with all milk, and it was fine. If I'd added a bit of lemon juice or vinegar, I may have gotten a slightly fluffier loaf, but I'm completely happy with how mine turned out.

***If you're tight on time, you can simply melt the butter in the microwave. But do try it at least once with the browned butter--it tastes wonderful! Also, it'll splatter quite a bit. I recommend using a pan that's bigger than what you need, so the taller sides will help contain the splatter. Or use a splatter screen if you have one.

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