I mentioned last time that we were going on a trip soon — we leave for Hawaii this coming Monday and I don’t think words can really express how excited I am. I’ve wanted to visit Hawaii for as long as I can remember and for a little while was saving up money in an attempt to go on my own in my early twenties. That never really panned out, so I’m grateful and happy that we’re going now, for two whole weeks! We never really took an official honeymoon when we got married at the end of 2012, so we’re counting this as our honeymoon. That’s allowed, right? I say yes.
We decided we were going to do this trip sometime during the planning of our wedding, so we’ve been talking about it for a few years at this point. We’ve been doing lots of reading about the islands, as well as talking to people we know who have been there about where we might want to go, things we’d like to do while we’re there, and obviously, where to eat. During this process we learned that the road to Hana is essentially paved in banana bread.
Banana bread is a thing in Hawaii. Lots of bananas are grown there, and when you have lots of bananas, making banana bread is one very easy way to get rid of them deliciously. It is apparently hotly debated which banana bread stand has the best loaf, but Julia’s Best Banana Bread came up quite a few times while I was reading about this, and when I saw that Bon Appétit had posted their recipe, I was curious to try it. I realize that it seems a bit odd to make an online recipe for something that you may have the opportunity to experience for real in a few weeks, but truthfully this was more about some deeply freckled bananas that would need to be used up before we left anyway.
To be honest, I was mostly curious because it seemed like the most boring banana bread recipe ever. No spices? No vanilla? There isn’t even butter. Or nuts. No rum? Of course these things are not required, but I’ve had basic banana bread before and it never really excited me. The ratios in this recipe also seemed crazy. It has about twice the amount of sugar and baking soda that I expected. It wasn’t so much unlikely to me that it could be good, but that it could be special.
I was definitely wrong. While it doesn’t have any extra showstopper ingredients to make it stand out on paper, it is undeniably special. The sugar browns to a deep caramelization and extra-ripe bananas give lots of lovely black flecks inside a slice. I made two changes to the recipe that were completely inspired by the fact that they were what I had at home and I didn’t want to run out to buy anything. I subbed coconut oil for the vegetable oil (which seems appropriate anyway in this context) and white whole wheat flour for all purpose flour. If I had APF on hand I would have probably used it, but I really like using white whole wheat flour in baked goods anyway because it makes them extra dense and chewy. If you do this instead of using all purpose, make sure you don’t over-measure the wheat flour, and maybe even err on under-measuring it, because it tends to absorb liquid into a black hole and the bread can come out dry. Then again, this bread is impossibly moist and I doubt you’ll have much of a problem.
Julia’s Best Banana Bread
Non-stick cooking spray
1 and 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
3 large eggs
1.5 cups cane sugar
3/4 cup of coconut oil
Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a 9 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt with a wisk. In another large bowl, place the ripened bananas and then mash. Add the eggs and sugar and wisk everything together until mostly well combined.
Melt the coconut oil in a small bowl in the microwave, then pour into the banana mixture slowly while wisking the entire time (so that your eggs don’t scramble) until the mixture is smooth and well combined.
Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. The bread will get quite brown on top, almost to the point that it may seem like its burning. Brown is what you want, black not so much.