Saturday, March 22, 2014

Coconut Banana Bread

There's some sort of banana gene that runs in my family on my dad's side.  My dad, my sisters, my nephew, and I all love bananas and eat them regularly.  To see the amount of bananas that my mom buys for my dad and my sister buys for herself and her son on a weekly basis, you would think they worked at a zoo or lived with Curious George.

While I love bananas, I don't always manage to eat them all before they start browning (and I'm not talking about some slight browning and freckling - I actually love bananas when the peels are a bit brown because that means it'll be sweeter and soft inside).  I wish I had taken a picture of the bananas I used for this recipe so you could see how far gone they were.  So even if you think your bananas are too brown and mushy for use, have no fear, they'll just be easier to mash and will make your bread even more banana-y in flavor!

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm a coconut addict and I have a huge bag of shredded coconut sitting in my pantry that was just asking to be used in this recipe.  Bananas and coconut = yum!  If I'd had coconut milk I might have considered using that instead of regular milk to intensify the coconut flavor, although maybe that would overwhelm the banana flavor.

Banana bread also freezes very well, so there's never a good reason to throw out your brown bananas. Make some banana bread and then eat it or freeze it for later!  Nothing better than freshly baked bananas and some coffee (or in my case and with the warmer days approaching, iced coffee).

Servings: 1 loaf made in a 9x5 loaf pan.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2-3 medium very ripe bananas
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut (plus some extra for topping the loaf)
Cooking spray (I used a coconut oil spray from Trader Joe's)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven at 350 degrees. For ease of removal later, line the loaf pan with parchment paper, letting the edges stick out over the sides so  you can grab onto them later. Spray the pan and paper. 
    • (I have a love/hate relationship with parchment paper - love its nonstick properties but trying to keep the curling paper straight and out of the way was a pain. If you don't have any parchment paper, just make sure to grease the pan well.)
  • Melt 1/2 cup butter in the microwave over low heat and then whisk together the butter with 3/4 cup white sugar in a large bowl until combined.
  • Add 2 large eggs to the batter and whisk until smooth.
  • Add 2-3 bananas to the batter and mash with the whisk or a fork (or, if you don't want any banana lumps, mash the bananas in a separate small bowl and then add the mush into the batter).
    • If your bananas are very brown then the banana flavor will be stronger and you can get away with 2 bananas. If they are just a little brown and freckly, maybe consider going up to 3. I used 2 since my bananas were completely brown. 
  • Add 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt to the batter and, using a spatula, stir everything together until just mixed and there is no more dry flour visible.
  • Fold in 1/2 cup shredded coconut (this is the stage where you can add other ingredients based on preference (e.g., nuts, chocolate)).
  • Pour batter evenly into the pan and smooth the top.  
  • Optional: sprinkle the top of the loaf with some extra shredded coconut. I did this mainly to look nice with some toasted coconut on top, but then afterwards when cutting the bread it was kinda a pain crumbling all over the place (which Rosy LOVED cleaning up).
  • Bake for 50-65 minutes, depending on your oven. Start checking at 50 minutes and then every five minutes after until the loaf is dark brown and cracked on top. Toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
  • Place pan on a cooling rack and let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  • After the first cooling period, remove bread from pan (if you used the parchment paper method, simply lift the bread out by grabbing onto the paper's edges) and cool another 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Keep bread covered  for several days (if the loaf lasts that long!) or wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and keep in freezer for up to 3 months.

And now time for the pictures!

Stupid parchment paper. Hate trimming it to fit the pan while it's curling all over the place and getting in the way. But gotta love the benefits of using it while baking!
Since I had 4 super duper ripe bananas, I simply doubled the recipe above and made two loaves.

Love that crack!
Peek-a-boo, I see you!
Anytime I bake anything, Sunny is never intrigued and just stays on the couch or her bed. But Rosy loooves baked goods and sweets! She came trotting over as soon as I opened the oven and my apartment was filled with delicious banana bread smells!
"Excuse me, are you sure you don't need a taste tester? I'd gladly offer up my services!"
Sunny finally realized something was going on in the kitchen and came to join us after the cooling periods were over. She didn't necessarily want any crumbs, she was just hoping that all this kitchen activity meant I'd open the fridge so she could wedge herself in there and beg for her beloved carrots.
Slicing into the loaf!
Rosy's totally focused on the bread! Sunny's in her own little world, probably dreaming of carrots.
When it was time to sample the bread I decided to enjoy my afternoon snack with some iced coffee. I used to only drink my coffee black, but my sister has ruined me by introducing me to fun flavored non-dairy creamers, like Girl Scouts cookie-flavored creamers! Now I can't stop! Today I used the Samoa flavored creamer (I also have a Thin Mint flavored one). Sunny and Rosy got REALLY close to the bread for some good sniffs. 
Look at Rosy's begging shiny eyes!
Hope you enjoy!

Adapted from The Kitchn.

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