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Cream Cheese Banana-Nut Bread

Servings: Makes 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaves
I make quite a few different types of banana bread but this one is my favorite. The cream cheese in it makes it so very moist and tender. Enjoy a slice with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea or a big glass of milk on a chilly autumn or winter's evening and savour every bite of this wonderful and easy to make quick-bread.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6 oz/170g) unsalted butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (See "Toasting Pecans" below)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Grease and flour two 8 x 4-inch loaf pans, or line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and spray paper with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in bananas, pecans and vanilla. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and sides pull away from the pan. If necessary, place aluminum foil over breads the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.

Cool bread in pans on wire racks for 20 minutes. Remove from pans (and if you used parchment paper to line pans, remove paper) and cool breads completely on wire racks before slicing.

Store bread in an airtight container or wrap well in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Well wraped bread keeps at room temperature for up to 5 days. You may also keep bread refrigerated, if desired.

Bread freezes well. To freeze one or both loaves, tightly wrap in plastic wrap, then wrap tightly in aluminum foil, place in freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes 2 loaves.

Toasting Pecans

Many chefs believe that toasting nuts before they are used will intensify their flavor. Spread shelled nuts on a baking sheet. Place in preheated 325 degree F (160 C) oven, for about 5 minutes, stirring at least once. Don't overcook or the nuts will burn. If you can smell them cooking, it's time to get them out of the oven. The nuts also may be placed in a dry skillet on your stove-top over medium heat. Stir frequently and cook for about 4 minutes. Remove toasted pecans from the oven (or stove-top) and let cool to room temperature before adding to your recipe.

Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2005

Date: September 18, 2005