best ever banana bread (slightly healthier)

* adapted from Flour Bakery

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
½ cup applesauce
2 1/2 Tbs. butter, melted
3 ½ very ripe medium bananas (1 1/3 cups mashed)
2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Heat the oven to 325ºF degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, beat the sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Or whip by hand with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes.)

With the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the butter. Be sure NOT to pour the butter in all at once; add it slowly so that it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn't deflate the air you've just beaten into the batter. This took about 1 minute. Then add your applesauce in the same fashion.

Add the mashed bananas, crème fraiche, and vanilla and mix on low speed until just combined. Fold in the dry ingredients and nuts by hand until thoroughly combined, so there are no more flour streaks in the batter.

Pour the batter into a buttered 9×5-inch loaf pan and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until the top of the banana bread is golden brown and springs back when you poke it in the middle. If your finger sinks when you poke it, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and then pop out of the pan and serve. Keeps for 2 to 3 days at room temperature, tightly wrapped. Or store in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to 2 weeks and defrost overnight at room temperature.
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