1cup (2 large)bananasripened and mashed (see note 1)
1/2cupbuttermelted and cooled
3/4cupchocolate chipsor chopped walnuts, optional
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment if desired and coat with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the bananas, sugar, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until well combined.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the banana mixture into the flour mixture. Do not over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips. Batter will appear chunky.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth top. Bake until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes, rotating loaf halfway through.
Remove from oven and cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing, about 1 hour.
Bananas: Use fully-ripe or slightly overripe bananas (brown spots mean naturally sweet!). If you only have firm, green ones on hand, you can ripen the bananas in a 300-degree oven: Arrange unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet, then bake until banana skins are completely black all over, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely, scoop banana pulp from peel, and mash.
Yield: This recipe makes 1 (2-pound) loaf, enough for 8 generous slices.
Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Freezer: The loaf can be wrapped in parchment or foil and placed in a zip-top plastic bag and frozen up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.
Better batter: You'll know you've aced the batter when it feels silky and luxurious as you stir. It's just think enough and a joy to mix (just until combined and still a bit chunky!).
Slice right: For a cleaner cut and to steer clear of chocolate streaks from the chips in the batter, allow the Banana Bread to cool completely before cutting into slices, and wipe the blade clean between cuts.
Mix up your mix-ins: You can certainly stick with this classic Banana Bread as-is, or follow my suggestions for chocolate chips and/or chopped walnuts. Or get creative and play around with dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried figs), other chip flavors (butterscotch, peanut butter, white chocolate), or gently fold in frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, cherries).