I discovered there are quite a few banana bread recipes made with mayonnaise on the internet. However, almost all of these seemed a little bland, without any spices or vanilla.
How can you think of baking quick breads without some spices and flavorings? Cinnamon and vanilla are almost as basic for me as onion in chili or meatloaf. I like ginger in breads and cakes, and it goes well with bananas. Freshly grated ginger would be even better here, but I didn't have any in the house, so the ground form had to do.
And then there is the whole wheat flour, another thing missing from the internet recipes I found. I won't pretend this is a totally "healthy" bread, but I prefer to use whole grain flours whenever I can, for the flavor as well as the better nutrition. However, it's not a deal breaker if you don't have any; just use all enriched flour if you don't have whole wheat.
A few notes about bananas: The riper they are, the more sugars they contain, so you can cut back a little on the sugar. However, besides providing sweetness, the sugar in quick breads like these provides a softer texture; cutting it out completely is likely to leave a much less tender product.
Many older recipes (and some new ones too!) will list "3 bananas" or some other number, rather than a measured amount. A problem with this approach is the variation in the size of each banana. However, you might be tempted to throw away part of a banana if the 3 or 4 called for here equal more than a cup. Please don't do that! How can a site that lists "frugal" as its first word ever recommend such waste?! Be aware that a little extra banana (probably even as much as another quarter cup) will not lead to failure. The bread is likely to be just a little more moist, but you probably won't even notice the difference.
On the other hand, if you have only 7/8 of a cup or so of banana and you don't want to start another one, you can just fill the cup with milk--or applesauce if you prefer. The key here is to be sure the bread is moist enough, but a small variation in amount shouldn't cause problems.
Hmmm, maybe those old-fashioned cooks had the right idea by just saying "3 bananas."
That's a pretty long introduction to a really easy recipe. The longest part of making this is the baking, so it could be whipped up as a last minute dessert after you get home from work. However, as with many breads of this type, it is even better the second day.
Final result of the experiment? A tender, almost creamy bread with lots of flavor (but not a hint of a "mayonnaise-y taste).
Easy Banana Bread
1 c mayonnaise
1 c mashed bananas (about 3 to 4, depending on their size)
3/4 c sugar (if the bananas are very ripe, you could cut this by a few tablespoonsful)
1 t vanilla
1 c enriched flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t ground ginger (optional)
1 c chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Beat together the mayonnaise, mashed bananas, and vanilla until smooth.
2. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the banana mixture. Stir gently just until completely combined.
3. Turn the batter into well oiled pans. Since I prefer smaller slices, I use an 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inch pan along with two 3 1/2 X 6 inch pans--the size of those small disposable pans you can buy in sets of three. You could also use two of the 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 pans, but I only have one of those. Using the smaller pans means I always have a small loaf to share with a friend or neighbor too.
The smaller breads will take about 18 to 20 minutes while the larger loaf will take about 28 to 35 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center; it should come out with no unbaked batter clinging to it.
5. Allow the breads to cool in the pans on a cooling rack for 15 to 25 minutes before removing. Store in the refrigerator.
Add half a cup or so of raisins or dried cranberries with ( or in place of) the nuts.
If you are one of those people who need chocolate in everything, a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips could be folded in with the nuts. I'd omit the ginger and increase the vanilla to 1 1/2 teaspoons.
If you really, really like chocolate, stir in 1/3 cup cocoa with the bananas and yogurt and then add chocolate chips with the nuts.