Monday, July 09, 2012

summer baking: peanut butter banana bread {with mini peanut butter cups}

 There has (have?) been a very sad and sorry bunch of bananas working on their rotting ripening in the fridge for so long I cannot remember when I brought the surly bunch home.  Mister will not, absoutely will NOT partake of ooey brown and spotted bananas so it was up to me to use them in my smoothies. Unfortunately, I have been on a yogurt and fruit kick, so that sad and sorry bunch of bananas kept inching their way further and further into the depths that is the top shelf of our refrigerator. The shelf is high enough that unless you stoop, you cannot really see what snacky bits hang out there, so those sad and sorry bananas just kept growing more sad and sorry. I did manage to sneak one into an afternoon smoothie when the mister was home so there is that.

When one has a sad and sorry bunch of bananas one has two choices. One is to peel, chop and freeze and the other, my favorite, is to make banana bread. After my most recent encounter with those sad and sorry bananas I decided it was fine time to make bread. I was about to bake up my usual batch when I noticed a slightly melty carton of mini peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's that I bought to experiment with so I suppose NOW was the time. After an assessment of ingredients, I made up this recipe. If you like a not-too-sweet quick bread for breakfast then this is a tasty choice. If you prefer a sweeter bread I think you could increase the sugar to one cup...perhaps use a granulated white or turbinado sugar, I used brown sugar here. Before you start baking prep yourself a pitcher or pot of iced coffee (or, if it is winter where you are, HOT coffee), it makes for a perfect pairing.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
*2 cups flour
*1 tsp baking soda
*1/4 tsp baking powder
*1 tsp ground cinnamon
*a couple of cranks of black pepper
*pinch of salt
*1/4 cup ground flax seeds/flax meal
*1/2 cup packed brown sugar
*1/4 cup oil (canola or veggie)
*heaping spoon of peanut butter (about 1/4-1/2 cup) 
*2 eggs
*3 sad and sorry spotty bananas
*1/2 cup+ mini peanut butter cups 
*1/2 cup granola (optional)
 Mix yer dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl. I used a fork and whisked it all up until the mixture looked uniform in color. A note about using the baking powder AND baking soda. I like my banana bread to be dark and speckled. I started using other recipes that would come out light with nary a speck in sight and felt dismayed. After an internet search (I have no idea how I found it) I found a post about the chemical workings of using both baking powder and soda to produce a speckled loaf so now I make sure to add both. When I tried to look it up for you all I could find were references to using spotty and dark bananas which I think doesn't matter one whit for color but a lot for flavor.
 Peel and toss your sad and sorry bananas into bowl and mash em up with a fork or potato masher. If you have kiddos around, have them mash 'em up, kiddos love it and you can work on mixing up the oil and sugar while they're at it.
In a separate bowl, dump yer sugar and oil and mix using a hand mixer or wooden spoon. I lack both counter space and funds for a fancy stand mixer so all my recipes use good old fashioned stirring or beatering. Next add your peanut butter (I used SKIPPY) then your eggs. Beat for one full minute then add your sad and sorry bananas.
Unplug your mixer and pop the messy beaters into your banana bowl or sink, whichever is closest. Grab a wooden spoon and incorporate the dry ingredients using good old fashioned elbow grease. Mix in your mini peanut butter cups (or chips) and set aside. If you find your batter to be too thick, add a smidge of milk, one tablespoon at a time to thin.
Grease your baking dish of choice, I used both a shallow 9" cake round and a skinny loaf pan. pour your batter into your chosen baking dish(es) and toss a handful or two of granola on top. I used this nifty mix. If you managed not to eat up the rest of your peanut butter cups, add a few to the top of your batter as well.
Bake it all up in a hot 350F oven for 20-50 minutes depending on the depth of your pan/dish. The cake round pan baked up in 20 minutes while the loaf pan took about 40. Do the toothpick test to make sure but don't overbake.
Allow to cool. I find that banana bread tastes best at room temperature and even better the next day. This recipe makes a hearty (hippy dippy and scone like) loaf that is only slightly sweet save for the burst of chocolate and peanut butter from the mini cups.
I like it best with an unsweetened creamy iced coffee. mister scarfed down one third of the round pan in one evening. Not all at the same time but still...

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