- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups peeled, mashed bananas (about 3 1/2 - 4 medium bananas)
- 1/2 cup Fage Greek yogurt, optional or replace with ricotta/sour cream
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon flour
Prep: 10 - 15 minutes Bake: 55 - 65 minutes
Preheat oven to 350.
While oven is preheating, coarsely chop pecans (or your nut of choice). Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for 5 minutes, then give the pan a good shake or stir the nuts. Return to oven for another 5 - 7 minutes. As Rachel Ray says, "Your nose knows." This is particularly true with nuts. When they smell roasted and nutty, they're finished. Put the nuts in a bowl, toss with one tablespoon of flour, and leave to cool as you prepare the rest of your ingredients. Tip: Coating nuts or fruits in flour helps to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the batter while baking.
First thing: mash up your bananas. I do this in a 2-cup measuring cup. You need 1 1/2 cups of banana, so there's plenty of space for mashing and it makes it easier to check your banana levels as you're going. A lot of banana recipes that I've used will tell readers to use somewhere between 3 and 5 bananas. This is a huge mistake. I was often frustrated by how such a simple recipe could give me such wide-ranging results. I'd make a perfect banana bread one week, then use the same recipe to get either dry or too-moist results. Then I realized how very different banana sizes can be and how important it is to actually measure the amount of banana rather than just trust that 3 bananas is the right amount. Baking is science!
Second thing: The Greek yogurt is absolutely optional here. If you prefer a cakier, drier banana bread you might prefer to leave it out. If you don't like Greek yogurt (WTF?) and still want a bread on the moist side, adding ricotta or sour cream will work really well as substitutes. I'm also a huge fan of coconut milk in banana bread with toasted coconut flakes, but someone else who lives in this house and eats these baked goods isn't so much a fan (everyone, boo him).
Prepare a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan by buttering the sides and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir well to combine and make sure the brown sugar is nice and broken up.
In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs then add the mashed up banana, melted butter, Greek yogurt, and vanilla. Stir well to combine and then add spices. I love to have a warm, nutty banana bread, but spices are certainly another place that you can change things up. I think that ginger (or even crystallized ginger) is delightful in banana bread and I'm sure there a ton of flavor combinations you could try out here.
Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to stir. Fold in the toasted pecans and continue to fold until there is no longer any flour visible. It should come together rather easily. Scrape the batter into your prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
Place into the 350 oven and bake until the bread is well risen and a knife or cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. This should take somewhere between 55 to 65 minutes. When ready, remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from the pan and continue to cool on a wire rack or cutting board.