|Granulated sugar||1⁄4 Cup (4 tbs) (For an optional topping)|
|Finely chopped toasted blanched almonds/Walnuts and/or pecans||1⁄4 Cup (4 tbs) (For an optional topping)|
|Unsalted butter||17 Tablespoon (1 stick or 1/2 cup for the loaf)|
|Cup (16 tbs)/Mix light and dark||Bag (0 kg), raisins|
|Cup (16 tbs)/Use a regular tea like tetley||Bag (0 kg), hot tea|
|All purpose flour||2 Cup (32 tbs)|
|Baking powder||1 Tablespoon|
|Fine table salt||1⁄2 Teaspoon|
|Freshly ground nutmeg||1 Teaspoon|
|Sugar||1 Cup (16 tbs) (all granulated or mix half packed light brown sugar and half granulated)|
|Whole eggs||2 Large (made tepid by steeping them)|
|Pure vanilla extract||1 Teaspoon|
|Very ripe bananas||3 Large|
1) To set up to make banana bread: If you want to apply a topping to the banana bread, place those ingredients in either the bowl of a food processor or in a plastic bag and pulse to combine or roll over the ingredients, using a rolling pin. Set the topping aside, for now. Unwrap the stick of butter, cut it into cubes and put it in the bowl of your electric mixer. Cover the bowl and let the butter sit at room temperature, so it can soften. (To hurry this along, you can put a hot, wet, folded kitchen towel underneath the bowl. Don’t melt the butter, however.) Brush a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with melted butter and set it aside. Place the raisins in a bowl, if using, and pour the hot tea over them. Let them steep until supple, about ten minutes, then lift the raisins out, lay them on paper towels to drain. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2) To make the banana bread batter: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices, if using them. Cream the butter with the sugar in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. When very light, in both color and texture, add one of the tepid eggs and, while beating on a medium speed, let the egg become totally homogenous with the creamed mixture, before adding the next egg (give it at least 2 minutes of continuous beating after adding each egg). Beat in the vanilla. Leave the machine on, while you puree or mash your bananas. Puree the bananas or mash them well with either a wide blending fork or an old-fashioned potato masher. When smooth, pour the puree into the batter, while the machine is continually running. Stop the machine and, using a large rubber spatula, scrape the batter off the sides and up from the bottom of the bowl. Beat briefly again, then stop the machine. Add all of the flour mixture and, while mixing on a slow speed (pulse at first to avoid flour flying out from the bowl) combine the ingredients well, without over-mixing. If using raisins, fold them in now, using the rubber spatula.
4) To bake the banana bread: Pour the batter into the bowl, using all of it, and smooth the top with a table knife or a small off-set icing spatula. If using the topping, sprinkle it over the top of the batter, using all of it. Bake the banana bread in the preheated 350F oven for 50 to 55 minutes
(A tester will come out clean, when inserted deeply into the top-center of the loaf). Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run the dull side of a table knife around the sides of the pan. If you’ve used a topping, place a piece of wax paper on top of the loaf and then place another wire rack on top and invert the banana bread. Lift the pan off the loaf, then invert the loaf again, right side up, discard the paper and let it cool. (If not using a topping, the wax paper is not necessary, just place the rack directly on top of the loaf and invert, as directed.).
5) To serve and store: Banana bread is best if left to cool completely before slicing. Actually, it’s best when sliced the day after baking. To store, once cool, either place on a platter, under a domed lid, or wrap the loaf well in pliable plastic wrap and then slip the loaf into a large heavy-duty plastic bag. Either way, keep banana bread at room temperature.
Timing is Everything:
• Banana bread can be made a day or two ahead and, after cooling and wrapping, simply stored at room temperature. This loaf will stay moist, if wrapped correctly, for several days after baking.
• Banana bread freezes perfectly, for 2 months, when wrapped well with plastic wrap and then stored in doubled heavy-duty ”jumbo” plastic bags. To thaw, remove from the freezer and let it sit out at room temperature, in its original wrapping, overnight. In the morning, if you want to wake up that “fresh baked” flavor, put in a preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes. Be careful, though, you don’t want to dry it out.