Spiced Banana Bread

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close-up photo of H. Weal, co-author of The Weal MealMy family likes bananas, but no matter how small a bunch we buy, we can never seem to get to the last one before it goes brown. One overripe banana is just perfect for tossing into a smoothie. But on the rare occasions when several have been neglected, I make banana bread. My recipe is basically a remix of my Spiced Pumpkin Bread recipe, so of course it contains my signature addition of chai spice.— H. Weal

1 3/4 cups (219 grams) flour
2 teaspoons chai spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound bananas, ripe or overripe (about 4)
3/4 cup (144 grams) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
2 eggs

small (1 1/2-quart) mixing bowl
measuring cups and spoons
large (5-quart) mixing bowl
electric mixer
mixing spatula
9” x 5” loaf pan, greased and floured

1. Set oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, combine flour, chai spice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. Place remaining ingredients in large bowl and beat together with mixer on medium-low speed until just blended.
3. Add flour mixture. Beat until just blended.
4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until fully set — about 45 minutes.
5. Let stand at least 15 minutes before removing from pan.

• Bananas are ripe when their aroma gets noticeably stronger and the peel develops brown spots. Bananas are overripe when the spots increase enough to make the peel more brown than yellow. The banana inside is still good, even when the peel becomes entirely brown. The browner the banana peel, the sweeter this bread will turn out.
• I use kosher salt in all my cooking, and baking is no exception. Some larger granules never fully dissolve by the end, which sometimes gives my baked treats a surprising, but always subtle, salty-sweet flavor. I enjoy this little twist, but if you do not, simply replace kosher salt with table salt in the recipe above.
• Batter will be lumpy and bread will be left with small, moist bits of banana throughout. If you prefer a more uniform texture, mash bananas well before adding to batter.
• Bread is fully set when a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
BONUS RECIPE: Spiced Banana Muffins: Replace baking pan with a lined 12-cup muffin pan. Prepare as above. Scrape batter into pan until each cup is filled to the brim. Bake until fully set – about 20 minutes.

1 hour, 15 minutes

1 loaf (8 servings)

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