On a recent trip to the supermarket, I spotted this mix not in the baking aisle, but in the produce section. Why? Because unlike other readily available banana bread mixes this one actually calls for real bananas. Additionally, wheat flour is listed as the first ingredient, and the mix doesn't require copious amounts of oil. A low-fat quick bread with real banana flavor? I couldn't wait to test it out.
To prepare the bread, I first mashed up two large, overripe bananas and combined them with one lightly beaten egg and 1/3 cup of water in a large mixing bowl. Then I dumped in the package of mix, which was a sunny shade of pale yellow and perfumed with the thick, tropical scent of bananas. (Banana flakes are the fourth ingredient.) I stirred everything together with a fork. No whisk or even a spatula was required—talk about one-bowl baking. Then I poured the batter into a greased and floured 9x5-inch loaf pan and baked it for 55 minutes in a 350°F oven.
When the bread was ready the first thing I noticed was the top: it was still that same pale yellow color. When I bake my favorite banana bread recipe from scratch, the top burnishes to a deep mahogany brown. It's one of my favorite parts. I save a top bite for last each time I eat a slice. This Chiquita loaf was off to a disappointing start. Still, I turned the loaf out and let it cool.
The situation improved later, when I cut the bread into slices. I was pleased to see it was dotted throughout with pockets of gooey banana. The crumbs were dense and the center of the loaf was moist but not at all greasy, as is often the case with quick breads prepared from a mix. I took a bite and was pleasantly surprised by the bread's toothsome texture. The wheat flour imparted a hearty, wholesome quality that was quite satisfying. Also, the banana flavor was, in a word, intense. The fresh bananas and the banana flakes packed a double punch—like chocolate-chocolate chip ice cream.
If you love loads of banana flavor I would recommend a box of the Chiquita mix. It's incredibly quick and easy to prepare, and tastes more authentic than any other store-bought mix I've tried.
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