Sunday, March 8, 2015

Browned Butter Strawberry Banana Bread: Betty, You're Awesome!

 Have you ever thought about Betty Crocker?  Probably not!  If you haven't, you're a practical, right-thinking individual because Betty Crocker isn't even a real person!  She was made up by a an ad agency!  But still, I guess Betty's marketing department is so good, it sure seems like she's a real person to me-- and a really charming one at that!  Even her name sounds like a good friend!  The first cookbook I had was a "kids in the kitchen with Betty Crocker" type publication and I still remember making those recipes.  They were all good, and they all came out just as Betty said they would.  Yes, she was nothing if not reliable!  And somehow encouraging....and fun.....and.....okay, I know that's enough :)
Even though it's cold and only March, there were some very nice strawberries on sale, so I broke out of my must be seasonal snob-ishness (I'm positive Betty is NOT a snob-- she's got her pic on cake mixes for gosh sakes!) and bought them.  I also had a few overripe bananas on hand, so I looked up a recipe for a strawberry banana bread and found this one from "you know who" that used browned butter, too!  Browned butter makes everything better and this recipe is no exception!  It takes just minutes to put together (I included a couple shortcuts and added a few more strawberries and a little less banana.  I'm sure Betty won't care; she looks like she'd be so easy going!), and it tastes SO wonderful!!  Banana-y, but with bits of tart strawberry flavor, this bread tastes great anytime!  Thanks, Betty!
Betty's Browned Butter Strawberry Banana Bread

1/2   cup unsalted butter
1.25 cups sugar
2      large eggs
2      very ripe bananas
1/2   cup buttermilk
1      teaspoon vanilla
2.5   cups all purpose flour
1      teaspoon baking soda
1      teaspoon salt
1.5   cups sliced, ripe strawberries

         Grease the bottom only of a 9"x5" loaf pan with shortening or spray well with PAM.  Preheat the oven to 350F.Put the butter in a small pan.  Melt over medium heat and let the butter bubble until it turns a brownish, golden color.  Stop a tiny bit before it's dark enough because it will continue to darken off the heat.  Be sure not to burn it.  It should smell really good!
Pour the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the sugar and beat well.  Add the eggs and beat well.  Break up the bananas into chunks and add to the bowl.  Beat until they are mashed up, then add the buttermilk and vanilla, beating until combined.
Add the dry ingredients and beat until everything is well incorporated, but not too long or the bread will be tough.  Stir in the strawberries.
Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out cleanly. Lay a piece of aluminum foil over the loaf if it seems like it's browning too quickly.  Cool the loaf 10 minutes after baking, then run a knife around the edges and invert the bread onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.

I've had some fun making scented, mini-soap party favors for my friend, Julie's, annual luncheon that she hosts for her mother.  Wrapped with a cute notepad, these made lovely little gifts for her guests!

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