Bananas, gotta love ‘em. They are the perfect on-the-go breakfast. They are a healthy, no-fuss snack. They are the only affordably priced fruit in all of Japan. Even when left on your counter a few days too long and they’ve turned black, kind of squishy, looking sad and a little less than appetizing—they are actually in the perfect state to make some bangin’ banana bread!
This recipe is extraordinarily cheap and easy, and yields moist and delectable banana bread. The secret to its sweetness without too having to add too much sugar is having three, very ripe bananas— the blacker the better. Using yogurt ensures the banana bread will be nice and moist, without adding too much oil or butter. Let me just say, you get a lot of bang for your buck with this recipe, and we’re not monkeying around. Go bananas y’all! J
1/4 c. butter (margarine)
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 very ripe bananas
3/4 c. plain yogurt
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon*
1 c. choc. chips*
1/4 c. walnut pieces (pecans or almond slices work too)*
First, preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
Next mix ingredients in this order (if I were Alton Brown I’d explain why, but you’re just going to have to take my word on it): First mix together the butter and sugar. Next beat in the eggs and vanilla. Next break up the bananas and mix in (my preferred masher of choice is a trusty fork). Next add the yogurt. At this point, the batter will be a little lumpy, that’s ok.
Then, add the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.
Lastly, you’ll mix in the chocolate chips, I’ve listed them as optional, but who are we kidding, right? After the ingredients are all mixed together, pour the batter into a greased standard size loaf pan (about 9” x 5”). Sprinkle walnut pieces on top (you could mix the walnut pieces into the batter instead, but I prefer the nuts on top because I think it looks nice and they get that wonderful toasty flavor).
Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes to an hour—40 minutes rendering a bready, but moist banana bread with a bit of gooey goodness in the centermost pieces (which is the best part to me, but I can eat batter by the spoonful!), and another 10 to 15 minutes longer still yielding a moist banana bread, but one that is completely cooked through.
Ticks of the Trade:
- When my bananas turn black, I chuck them in the freezer where they will keep for months until I’m ready to whip up a loaf.
- To save on costs I use margarine instead of butter. Also instead of chocolate chips (which can be pricey in Japan), I usually just buy a regular bar of semi-sweet chocolate and break it into pieces and add that to the batter. If you do this, and you already have the standard baking supplies on hand, the cost of ingredients probably breaks down to about 400 yen a loaf.
- When baking, your environment plus differences in ovens can make baking times vary, so sometimes it’s best to use the times listed as a guideline. Ultimately, follow your nose, when you can smell the deliciousness wafting from your oven, it’s probably finished. Or you can always insert a toothpick into the center of the loaf, when it comes out clean and free of any batter the banana bread has finished cooking.
(note: if you bake this and decide not to gorge on it alone, and instead pass it around the office to your lucky Japanese coworkers, they will not know it as banana bread, but as バナナ ケーキ, banana keh-ki. Silly monkeys!)