Bread Machine Love: Banana Quickbread Edition

I have a slight obsession with bread machines. My parents got our first one in the early 90’s, when I was in junior high. I remember trying out many experimental concoctions (with varying degrees of success) using that poor machine, and am amazed at how long it survived despite the abuse I put it through. Noting how attached I’d gotten to it, my parents gave it over to my ownership when I moved away to university. It went with me through two schools, countless LA apartments, and finally ended up here in our little home. That trusty old machine only recently met its end this past winter, when after fifteen years of loyal service, it hurled itself suicidally off of the kitchen counter with the force of its own rotating mixer blade and a particularly heavy dough load. Cracking itself into several pieces on the tile floor, it was officially out of commission.

There was a mourning period. It lasted about two weeks. Hearing my tale of woe, my parents surprised me with yet another machine this past Christmas. A bigger and better one, even. Amazing how far technology can go in a decade, eh? And with it, I have now moved on to bigger and better recipes. Which I plan to share here. Welcome to my cooking blog!

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Today was banana bread day. I always buy extra bananas when we go to the grocery store to make sure that there is a banana bread day every week and a half or so. Banana bread is too good to not have around for longer than that. I use a modified version of the Allrecipes Banana Bread for Machines.

As per usual with my cooking posts, a step-by-step pictorial with the recipe is after the jump.

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Start with 2 cups of flour — the original recipe calls for both being all-purpose, but I tend to like going with 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour and half a cup of bread flour, to give the bread a bit more volume.

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Next goes in 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

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Followed by 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

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I upgraded the original recipe’s 3/4 cup of sugar to a full 1 cup of sugar, since I like my bread verging on cake-like. I might even try a little more next time, since it still isn’t nearly as sweet as most grocery store breakfast breads.

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Two large eggs go in after all the dry ingredients. It’s important to have the wet stuff on top of the dry stuff in the machine to keep the mess down when ingredients start to fly under the spinning of the blade.

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3 tablespoons of vegetable oil follow the eggs.

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Next up are three ripe bananas. The recipes calls for two, but I’ve never used less than three and sometimes go for four. I find it doesn’t really affect the texture of the bread much at all, but it most definitely ups the banana-ness of the final product. Then again, if you don’t like bananas, why’d you be making this?

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Although the recipe says to just peel and halve the bananas lengthwise and chuck them in, I find it much more efficient to the mixing process if I partially break up the bananas with a fork as they’re going into the bucket. It distributes the banana chunks much more evenly throughout the bread, I think.

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Then just set your machine to the dough setting and let it mix for about 5 minutes. You might need to nudge down stray ingredients from the edges of the bucket as the dough is mixed.

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What your dough should look like as the mixing nears its end. Then start the thing baking for an hour.

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An hour can be enough or too little, depending on elevation, ingredients and your machine. For instance, this is what my loaf looked like after an hour, so I put it back in for another 15 minutes. Judge how well-baked your loaf is by sticking a wooden skewer or chopstick in the middle — if it comes out gooey or with a lot of dough on it, pop it in for more time. 10 minute increments are usually safe. Test until the stick comes out clean and the loaf is a nice golden color.

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When the loaf is done, remove the cooking pan from the machine immediately so that it doesn’t get too much heat. I usually dump the loaf out to cool off after that, so it doesn’t end up sticking to the pan. Here it is, all pretty and golden brown, ready for tomorrow’s breakfast!

I’m sure at some point I’ll cover making bread the old fashioned way with an oven and kneading, just like my mother used to. However, that will be reserved for a time when I can afford to do more recreational cooking. As for these busy days, a bread machine does all the work and provides us with lovely breads for a fraction of what they cost at the store using spare ingredients in the pantry.

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