My first and favorite recipe for banana bread, half healthful with whole wheat flour and wheat germ, made special with poppy seeds and bright-red maraschino cherries. A 2003 column published online for the first time.
Nutrition experts cite super-size portions as one reason why Americans put on pounds.
I recently came upon a new baking pan that cuts the portion size of quick breads in half, just like that. The pan holds the same volume as a standard bread pan but is shallower and longer, about twelve inches long, allowing for more slices.
(2009 update: So sorry, this pan has been discontinued by King Arthur, too bad, it remains my very favorite.)
A half-inch thick slice from the long pan feeds up half the calories as one from a standard bread pan. The longer size is especially perfect for rich quick breads but when the weather cools off, I’ll be trying it for bread too.
CHEERY CHERRY BANANA BREAD
Time to table: 1 hour
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1/3 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon vinegar)
- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup wheat flour
- 1/4 cup poppy seeds
- 1 jar drained maraschino cherries, optional
Cream butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and combine well. Add buttermilk and bananas and combine well. Stir together dry ingredients and mix into wet mixture; do not overmix or holes will form during baking. Stir in cherries. Bake in a lightly greased bread pan at 350F for 30 – 40 minutes. Let cool before slicing.
Speaking of super-sized portions, who's seen the 2004 documentary Super Size Me? I couldn't imagine becoming LESS excited about the fast-food chains that appear at every turn. This very watchable movie has even turned my teenage nephews off McDonalds drive-throughs. The DVD should be easy to find but if you'd like to watch it for free, right on your computer, check out Hulu.com, my latest non-food obsession! No special software required, just click watch and there it is!
How ripe should bananas be for baking? See these pictures of ripe bananas.
While it's possible to find poppy seeds in the spice aisle at the grocery store, they're very expensive there. Instead, watch for large bags of poppy seeds at an international market with imports from the Mideast or Eastern Europe.
This column was originally published in 2003, it is published online for the first time in 2009.
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