I don't buy bananas very often. I prefer apples for my everyday fruit, supplemented with berries and stone fruits in the summertime of course. When I do buy bananas, I tend to forget about them for a week and then find this:
Which is probably the best reason to buy bananas in the first place. (I know you're all jealous of my amazing 1960s formica countertops, by the way. Oh, the joys of renting...) These bananas are way beyond eating territory for me, and the bottom ends are practically rotten. But they are perfect for baking.
I considered making banana pancakes, or perhaps some banana oat muffins. In the end, though, it was a classic recipe for banana bread, made a little healthier (and a little easier) that won my heart. The sugar is reduced from the original recipe, and I used a combo of all purpose and whole wheat pastry flour. Last month I picked up a bag of hazelnut meal/flour on a whim, and I thought it would make a great addition too. I'm not sure what else to do with the hazelnut meal though, so if you have any ideas let me know!! Also, please share any favorite recipes or ideas you have for overripe bananas! I'm sure this won't be the last time I have a few forgotten bananas laying around.
Banana Walnut Bread
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking, via The Fresh Loaf
Makes one 9x5x4" loaf
3 very very ripe bananas
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons toasted walnuts, divided
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9x5x4" loaf pan with buttered parchment paper.
Toast the walnuts in the oven (or in a pan on the stove) for 8-10 minutes until golden. Chop the walnuts, and set aside 2 tablespoons of the smallest pieces to put on top of the loaf.
In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a spoon or fork (or a potato masher, if you have one). A few small lumps are okay. Stir in the softened butter, sugar, and eggs.
In a small bowl, combine the hazelnut meal, flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined (do not overmix). Fold in 1/2 cup of the toasted walnuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts on top, pressing slightly to make them stick. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for just a couple of minutes, then transfer the bread to a cooling rack.