Beautiful, Delicious Variations on Banana Bread

By Ghag, Sharon K | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

Beautiful, Delicious Variations on Banana Bread


Ghag, Sharon K, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


A recipe for moist, flavorful banana bread is a find. A half- dozen of them, all in one book, is a discovery.

And if they all come together quickly with wonderful results, well, that's a gold mine. "Maida Heatter's Cakes" (Andrews McMeel, $19.99) isn't the kind of book that captures a baker's imagination. There are no pictures, no fancy ingredients, no special techniques - - only recipes.

Each begins with a brief introduction, and each is backed by Heatter's reputation as the doyenne of desserts. But a closer look reveals an enticing depth of variety for cakes -- plain, fancy, chocolate, with fruit, with vegetables, with yeast, cheesecakes and baked breads.

Everyone is delicious.

Banana Carrot Loaf

Butter, for greasing the loaf pan

Bread crumbs, for coating the loaf pan

1 cup light raisins (steamed)

1 cup (packed) grated carrots

2 cups sifted flour

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 large bananas (1 cup)

Adjust the rack 1/3 up from the bottom of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch by 5-inch by 3-inch loaf pan (8- cup capacity) and dust with bread crumbs.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs just to mix. Beat in the sugar and oil. Coarsely chop the bananas and add to the egg mixtures along with the raisins and carrots. Then on low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients and beat, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, until thoroughly mixed. Turn the mixture in to the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the loaf, all the way to the bottom, comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

Makes 1 (9-inch) loaf.

Pecan-Peanut Butter-Banana Bread

This recipe is from "Maida Heatter's Cakes" (Andrews McMeel, $19.99).

Bread crumbs or wheat germ, for coating the pan

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1 cup sifted whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing thepan

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 to 3 large bananas (1 cup)

1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted

Adjust the rack 1/3 up from the bottom of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 8-inch by 4-inch by 2 1/2-inch pans and dust with wheat germ or dry bread crumbs.

Sift together the flours, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until softened. Add the peanut butter and beat to mix. Beat in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time. Coarsely mash the bananas and add to the bowl. Then, on low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients and beat only until incorporated. Pour half of the batter into each pan and smooth the tops.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of each loaf comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out.

Makes 2 small loaves.

Cuban Banana Bread

Bread crumbs, for coating the loaf pan

1 1/2 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the loaf pan

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup dark-brown sugar

1 large egg

1 cup bran cereal (such as Kellogg's All-Bran, not flakes)

3 to 4 medium-size bananas (1 1/2 cups)

2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Adjust the rack 1/3 up from the bottom of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. …

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