Right before our offices closed for the holiday break, there were two bunches of overripe bananas leftover in the test kitchen. Always the good Samaritan, I liberated them from what would have been a lonely expiration, and gave them a future—as banana bread. Well, two banana breads, actually, or three if you count the fact that one recipe yielded two loaves. The recipes I chose had notable differences, and I was curious to see how the finished results would turn out.The first recipe, from an old issue of Gourmet, used cake flour and butter, and made a very crumbly, though delicious, bread with a very craggy top. It was delicious toasted with butter (what isn't?).
The second recipe (pictured at top) used all-purpose flour, but I substituted half for whole wheat flour. It also called for vegetable oil, instead of butter, which was added after the eggs and sugar were beaten to ribbon stage—about 10 minutes on medium-high. That step created a cake-like batter that had a very fine crumb, and it was also less sweet than the first bread I made. There was ample batter to make two loaves, and since I had a long metal pan and a Pyrex, I did one of each to see if there would be any impact on cooking time. In the end, both loaves were done simultaneously, the one in the metal pan may have been a shade or two darker, but other than that, they were interchangeable. I think I preferred the shape of the slices from the long pan, and was amazed at the shelf-life of this bread; it kept for 10 days at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic.