Buttermilk is one of my favorite flavors for sweets–I love how the light tang of buttermilk melds with butter and sugar. So it was an easy jump to add it to my basic banana bread recipe. The buttermilk adds subtle tangy notes and makes for a moist and tender crumb. The top of the banana bread had a thin sugar crust that’s studded with big flecks of sea salt, making is pretty much irresistible. Though this bread keeps well for several days, it won’t be hanging around for long.
Buttermilk Banana Bread (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
makes 1 loaf
2 cups white whole wheat or unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon large grain sea salt, plus more for topping
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for topping
1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
2 large ripe bananas, lightly mashed (approximately 1 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Set out the dairy and eggs. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Liberally grease the sides of a regular size bread dish (9 x 5 x 3³) and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Then, with mixer on low (fitted with the paddle attachment for a stand mixer), lightly beat the butter for several minutes, and then add the sugar. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the buttermilk. Gently fold in the bananas and the vanilla. Finally, gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the bread dish and sprinkle the top with 2 – 3 tablespoons sugar, and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.
Place bread in oven and bake for 60 – 70 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Keep a close eye toward the end of cooking time, as cooking time can vary.
Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes before serving. Tightly covered, the bread will last for several days.
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