Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quick Breads

I am not by any means an accomplished baker. I can make cookies, brownies and the occasional cake, but my lack of precision in the kitchen does not really lend itself to baking. I may scoff at recipes that suggest that you weigh the flour instead of just using your fingers to brush off the excess in the measuring cup, but it turns out that attention to detail really does make a difference when baking.

Quick breads, I have found, are the exception to this rule. Make one, you can make them all. Make one, and you can make a dozen variations. Make one with your kids, they will have the pleasure of eating a snack that they cooked with you.

Banana bread is the gateway quick bread. It is nearly impossible to mess up and can be a template for countless iterations of baked goods (like the apple sauce raisin bread I wrote about a few weeks ago).

My favorite banana bread recipe is from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

  • Preheat oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan.
  • In a small bowl mash 3 super ripe bananas. (Tip: If your bananas go dark brown before you are ready to use them, just toss them in the freezer and defrost when you are ready to bake. Also, if you are dying to have banana bread, but your bananas are actually fresh, you can ripen them in the oven.)
  • Add 2 eggs to bananas and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl combine 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda.
  • Combine wet and dry and pour into pan. Bake 1 hour. 
This will all take about 10 minutes to prepare.

Some variations to consider:
  • Only have one brown banana? Use pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, zucchini (grated) or apple sauce to supplement. No bananas at all, just pick a different fruit/vegetable.
  • No fruit or veggie to add in, you can use dried fruit instead and add more liquid to the batter (milk, juice, soy milk, water, yogurt, kefir, sour cream etc.) You may also need to add a little more sugar if you want to keep the bread on the "fruity" end of the spectrum.
  • Add some wheat germ, ground flax or quick oats for a little more texture. 
  • Experiment with different sweeteners: honey, molasses, agave, brown sugar etc.
  • Add chocolate chips and make it sweeter.
  • Add some fat - butter or oil - to make a richer loaf.
  • Top it with streusel.


  1. Another sweetener you could try is blackstrap molasses. I read about what a great iron source it is, and now that I have it in hand, I'm looking for ways to use it. So far I have granola and now quickbread. :)

  2. How about in oatmeal? Or would it be too overpowering?