Serves: Makes 5 (6- by 2½-inch) miniature loaves or 2 (9- by 5-inch) standard loaves
- Vegetable oil cooking spray for preparing the pans
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ⅔ cup (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
- 1⅓ cups finely chopped dried apricots, tossed with 1 tablespoon of flour to separate
- ¾ cup chopped hazelnuts or walnuts, toasted (see Note)
- ½ cup diced crystallized ginger
Procedures:This is a favorite quick bread, and it makes a delectable hostess gift. A loaf quickly disappears if sliced and set out for breakfast on a lazy weekend. It is best when toasted and smeared with a little butter. The tiny pockets of tender, sweet apricot and brightly flavored ginger mingle on the palate while the warm banana bread speckled with toasted walnuts brings delight to the morning meal. This recipe yields five miniature loaves or two standard loaves. For gift giving, you can buy lovely, Italian-made paper baking pans that come in mini loaf pan sizes. Bake right in these disposable, heavy waxed paper pans that are brown-toned with a decorative gold pattern. Leave the loaves in the pans and wrap with clear cellophane and a bright bow.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of the loaf pans with cooking spray. Set aside on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the bananas, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl once with a rubber spatula.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the sifted ingredients in 3 batches, beating after each addition until the flour disappears. Do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apricots, nuts, and ginger.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake the mini loaves on the baking sheet for 15 minutes, or 35 minutes if you're using two larger loaf pans. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue to bake until nicely browned, puffed at the center, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes longer for either size loaf pans. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack and let cool in the pans.
Note: Spread the chopped nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the center rack in a preheated 350°F oven until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. (Watch carefully so they brown but don't burn!) Transfer to a plate to cool.
Storing: The bread will keep for up to 5 days. Wrap the breads tightly with plastic wrap or place in sealable plastic bags with all the air removed. The bread can be frozen for up to 1 month.