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basic banana bread

(post, Elizabeth Stark)

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You don't make banana bread because you want banana bread, you make banana bread because you have some bananas that are about to go bad. So the last thing you need is a fussy recipe. This is something you want to make quickly and without having to buy ingredients, unless you can get them from the deli across the street. And the only ingredients you can buy at the deli across the street are beer, cold cuts, or wild cherry pepsi, which don't traditionally figure into banana bread recipes.

Some banana breads can be very moist. This is not one of those. It has a more robust and delicate crumb. It isn't dry, but it's not all up in your face, so you can have it for breakfast. Or with butter. Or especially warm, with a scoop of ice cream.

Basic Banana Bread (adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of ground cloves
1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons room temperature butter
1/4 cup plain, whole-milk yogurt, not totally cold
2 large, room temperature eggs, beaten lightly
3 ripe bananas, lightly mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Set out your dairy and eggs. Put your baking rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Liberally grease the sides of a regular size bread dish (9 x 5 x 3") and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and spices. Then, using the paddle attachment and lowest setting on a stand mixer, or a wooden spoon, lightly beat the butter, and then add the eggs and yogurt. Gently fold in the banana mixture and the vanilla. Finally, add the flour in thirds and stir just until combined.

Pour into the bread dish and cook for about an hour, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Keep a close eye toward the end of cooking time.

Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes before serving. If tightly covered, the bread will last for several days at room temperature.