What a world we’re living in right now — I don’t think there are many people out there who have gone through both the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and the current COVID-19 pandemic. I did some reading about the Spanish Flu and it definitely seems like history is repeating itself; during the first wave, many cities refused to shut down and still hold parades, while some cities started to close down schools, enforce masks, and other precautionary measures. Sounds familiar? Anyways, the History Channel has a ton fo really interesting information on the Spanish Flu and it’s definitely to see how eerily similar it is to today’s current situation.
Despite the challenges, I’m feeling grateful (most of the time) to be able to be home with my family. I’m also thankful that I still am able to work from home. I’m also in awe and appreciate all the essential workers — doctors, nurses, delivery people, and many, many others who have really been on the front line and made the sacrifices. It’s definitely an interesting time; there are times when I feel anxious, not knowing of what’s going to happen in the future — is there light at the end of this tunnel? Moments when I feel sad, angry, and depressed about the state of the nation and really, the world. But there are definitely times when I feel really grateful. It’s definitely a mix of emotion and in any case, I think the most important thing is to remember to give yourself even grace and patience during this time.
The “safer-at-home” mandate also means that many people have a little extra time (shorter commute between bedroom and living room than the 45 minutes it takes me to go five miles in LA!) on their hand. I’ve been seeing a lot of people spend more time in their kitchen, cooking up a storm, making Dalgona coffee, and baking — lots of baking! Sourdough bread and banana bread seems to be the most popular baker’s choice.
I decided to share my all-time favorite banana bread recipe that’s been tried and tested many, many times by me and my family. I personally haven’t really been baking — so there’s a lack of pictures, but when I do decide to bake this delicious banana bread, I’ll be sure to add pictures!
One of the things I love about this recipe is that it’s really forgiving. You can choose to melt your butter or not; you can use just all brown sugar or all granulated sugar (or a combination, like me!). You can also choose to cut down on the sugar if you don’t want it to be too sweet! I also like little chunks of bananas so I don’t mash my bananas super well. The most important thing, personally, is the baking soda.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda (super important!)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup of butter (room temperature)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten (room temperature)
- 3 bananas, mashed
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or chocolate chips (optional, and you can even substitute with raisins!)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prep your pan (usually it’s a 9×5 in. loaf pan). Make sure that your rack is in the bottom third of the oven. Line your loaf pan with parchment paper, with some excess hanging over the sides of the pan. Grease the pan by spraying the inside with cooking spray.
- Melt your butter either in the microwave (I typically do 20-second increments until they are melted) or over low heat on the stovetop. You can also choose to soften the butter and cream it without melting it.
- In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter (that’s been cooled to room temperature) and sugar and whisk, whisk, whisk until combine. You can also choose to cream the softened butter and sugar with a mixer until fluffy.
- Add the eggs into the bowl and mix, mix, mix until completely combined and the mixture is smooth.
- Add your milk and vanilla. Combine well.
- Add your mashed banana into the bowl. You can mash your banana using a whisk, dinner fork, or masher. You can make it as chunky or smooth as you like.
- Sift in the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Using a spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients and gently stir until the ingredients are combined. Do not overmix.
- Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips, if using.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Smooth the top of the batter using a spatula.
- Bake for 50 to 65 minutes. I find that with me, 58 minutes usually does the trick! You can insert a stick or a toothpick towards the 50-minute mark to check and see if your banana bread is ready. If the stick is clean, then your banana bread is ready.
- Let bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes then move to a wire rack.
- Banana bread muffins: You can make muffins with this recipe, too! Instead of a loaf pan, just line a muffin tin with paper liners (or silicone ones, if you have them!) and fill each up to roughly 3/4 full, and check for doneness after about 20 minutes.
- Creaming vs. melted butter: Typically, if you softened your butter and cream it with sugar, your banana bread will come out lighter and more cake-like; but if you melt your butter, it tends to be denser and less crumbly
- Baking at room temperature: I like to bake my eggs at room temperature because I find that the ingredients will mix more evenly. If your ingredients are not fully incorporated well enough, then you run the risk of overmixing your ingredients. If you overmix, then you get gluten, which makes it tough and chewy!
- Brown vs. granulated sugar: Brown sugar creates a denser and moister bread; it also creates more depth and roundness to the flavor. But be careful when baking — you don’t want to overbake just because brown sugar will make the batter come out darker (it’s the molasses in the brown sugar).
- Storage: Wrap leftovers (if there are any!) in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3-4 days. You can also wrap the bread in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil to freeze up to 3 months.
See you all next time!