The Hungry Games: Banana Bread Edition

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I'm excited to announce a new weekly feature here on Tikkido:  The Hungry Games.  It's pretty much a battle  between recipes, and only one can be victorious.  It was inspired by my incredible pastry chef/microbiologist mother, who has taken to taste testing multiple recipes for the same item in order to find the very best to make part of our collection.  And for our very first entry:  Banana Bread.

We test four or so recipes, from blogs, from friends, from our vast collection of cookbooks.  We bake them all up at the same time, and have as many people as we can con into helping do a blind taste test and fill out a survey.

Often, there's a clear winner. Sometimes, there's a tie, as in our banana bread face-off. In that case, we look to the complexity of the recipe.  If one recipe is less fussy and easier to prepare, it's declared the winner.  That's what put my Grandma Berta's recipe at the top of the heap in this contest.  

The Hungry Games Banana Bread Winning Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup butter-flavored Crisco (We've tried it with actual butter, and the shortening gives it a better texture.  My mother reports that since the banana flavor is dominant, the flavor benefit using real butter would otherwise give is insignificant.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 or 4 mashed, ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

We always have bunches of bananas in our freezer.  Whenever we have a banana that gets a little too ripe for us to eat fresh, we throw it right in the freezer, peel and all.  They last forever, it seems, and it only takes about a minute to defrost them in the microwave to make banana bread.  If you need to pull your bananas out of the freezer, the first step is to thaw them out.

Preheat oven to 325.

Cream together sugar and shortening.  Add eggs, and beat until fluffy.  Mix in flour, salt, baking soda, and mashed bananas and mix until well combined.  Fold in walnuts, if desired.

Bake in a greased bread tin at 325 for approximately 1 hour, until a test-skewer stuck into the center of the bread comes out clean.  When I baked the banana bread this afternoon, I needed an hour and five minutes.  Ovens vary quite a bit, so definitely check at the hour mark and adjust the cook time to your particular oven.

Fast, delicious, and it uses up fruit that would otherwise get tossed.  My kind of recipe!  Perfect for a brunch, a shower, or a make-ahead holiday breakfast.  And simple enough that the kids will have a great time helping out.  My girls leap at the chance to crack eggs and mash bananas when it's time to bake!

In future weeks, I'll be sharing our winners in the butter cake, peanut butter cookie, quick lemon bread, and carrot cake competitions.  And I can't wait to start gathering recipes for others, too!  What would you most like to see featured and get the Ultimate Hungry Games Winning Recipe for?  Taking recommendations now!

And, as my friend Naz just said, "May the odds be ever in your flavor!"   Sorry, I just couldn't resist.

Nicole Wills, creator of Tikkido