Well look at that, I wrapped a slice just for you! ;)
If you’ve never tasted the magic that happens when you combine banana and black walnuts, you need to try it, starting with this bread! Black walnuts used to be the only nut I used in my banana bread and I have no idea what happened but for some reason, I just stopped and totally forgot about them. Maybe because they are harder to find, I moved on to using pecans, my overall favorite nut for baking, and didn’t remember the superior black walnut until my Mom gave me a bag from the Nifty Nuthouse recently. I seriously wasted about three years on black walnut-less banana bread before she reminded me of the wondermosity that is the black walnut.
There is something really special about black walnuts in combination with banana. I also like to use them in banana cake- both in it and on top of the icing. Just so good. I can’t describe the flavor but there’s a little something extra to them that the regular walnuts don’t have. I want to say they have a sulfuric quality but I’m not sure that’s exactly right. You’ll have to tell me how you would describe them because I’m at a loss.
I made this particular recipe very simple in order to showcase the banana and black walnut flavors without muddying the waters with butter or vanilla or cinnamon or bourbon, et al. I’m really partial to using oil in quick breads and cake because, in my opinion, it makes a superior crumb that butter just can not compete with, except in flavor, of course. When the butter flavor isn’t necessary, I happily use oil. I’ve made this bread both ways, and we both prefer the oil version – much more moist, tender, and almost silky. The butter version is good, but not as good. It’s also heavier and more dense. I really recommend trying it this way before you scoff at the lack of butter. You won’t believe how good it is!
Black Walnut Banana Bread
2 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups (14 oz) mashed overripe banana
½ cup (3 1/2 oz) vegetable oil
½ cup (2 ¼ oz) black walnuts
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a large 9×5 loaf pan with oil and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the banana and oil and whisk until completely incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the wet mixture into the dry, then use the spatula to stir until somewhat blended. Add the black walnuts and stir until everything is just combined.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert onto your hot pad-covered hand and then invert again onto a cooling rack to cool as long as you can stand it. Wrap up to seal in moisture if it doesn’t get eaten in one sitting. :)
Just had to share this cautionary photo of my thumbs after I’d tried to harvest my own black walnuts since they grow abundantly in the neighborhoods around here. It took me two hours to fill maybe a single teaspoon with tiny little nut shards (it’s so hard to get through the shell!) and my thumb nails broke through the latex gloves I was wearing while I was working on them and my thumbs were stained like this for weeks. I highly recommend paying for them – the free nuts are just not worth the effort!