I've experimented with tons of different banana bread recipes (like the Bananas Foster Bread I baked a couple weeks ago), but no matter what I always come back to the same one: Banana Bread from Betty Crockers big red cookbook. It's a classic and it just doesn't get any better. This just goes to show you that you shouldn't mess with a good thing!
Betty Crocker's Best Banana Bread
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cup very ripe mashed bananas (3 or 4 bananas)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts (Which I never get to use because Bill doesn't like nuts. Sigh.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.
Grease a loaf pan (or two, depending on the size) and pour in batter. Bake on center rack for about one hour (I start checking after 50 minutes and continue testing the center with a toothpick until it comes out clean. I'm very careful not to overcook my bread because nothing tastes worse than burnt bananas!). When top is golden and toothpick comes out clean, remove to wire rack and cool.
I used to substitute skim milk in place of the buttermilk in this recipe because I always had it on hand. But when I started making Irene's Famous Buttermilk Biscuits I used some leftover buttermilk in my bread. Turns out it makes the bread even more delicious! I'll still use skim milk (or whatever else we have in the fridge) in a pinch, but I strongly recommend buying buttermilk for this recipe.
Also, before Bill bought me my amazing Williams-Sonoma loaf pan I used to make this bread in a bundt pan. I prefer the loaf pan because you get more of the yummy golden top crust, which is totally the best part.