Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread
I USE A HALF OF THE RECIPE
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans, divided (I USED NUT AND WALNUT)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (I USED YOGURT)
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (1 1/4 lb. unpeeled bananas, about 4 medium)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
If you've never worked with whole wheat flour, accurate measuring is everything. Be sure to spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup (do not pack) rather than scooping the cup into the flour, and level it off with a straight edge. Expect a denser bread with this recipe. It won't rise as much as traditional breads, and the texture will be very moist. (If you use frozen, thawed bananas, you might experience more wet patches throughout the bread.) We liked this version at the taste-testing table, but if you prefer a less dense bread with a little more rise and slightly lighter texture, then double the baking powder but leave the baking soda the same.
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place 3/4 cup pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 6 minutes.
2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
3. Combine whole wheat flour and next 4 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in bananas, 3/4 cup toasted pecans, and vanilla. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8- x 4-inch loaf pans. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup pecans.
4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides of bread pull away from pan, shielding with aluminum foil during last 15 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary. Cool bread in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks. Let cool 30 minutes.
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