Saturday, January 29, 2011

Old Bananas

I have a habit of getting bananas at the store, eating one, and then leaving them on the counter the rest of the week; the intention is good, I know that I should be eating bananas, but by the time I get a hankering for a banana again after the first one they are beyond snacking (see above).

My old COS Mike said his wife freezes them and then makes them into smoothies for the kids, a great idea; I however lean toward the not so healthful spectrum and think banana nut bread.

I decided to try a recipe from the May Issue of Saveur (as is) and then since I had five bananas, I tweaked a few things with another batch using the extra bananas. (Dan was playing with Remi during the baking process to keep him out of the kitchen; this is a bad shot but Remi fits perfectly on Dan's forearm, I just thought they looked cute.)

In my extra batch I kept the bones the same; think high school chemistry experiment here, you don't change everything, just a few things to see if they make a noticeable difference. The only differences in the second batch were that I added honey to the mashed bananas (above), used light brown sugar instead of white and I used a combo of walnuts and pecans verses straight pecans.

There was a color difference in the two (naturally due to the brown sugar) but the taste was not all that different; it has a bit more sweetness and more of a crunch with the addition of the more substantial walnut verses the tender pecan.
However, like the Saveur article, I am with Ben in that I think I like the original with maybe the addition of honey and some cinnamon for depth of flavor (which is what you will find below; I also am including the link to Saveur for the original).

Slightly adapted "Mom's Banana Bread" from issue #129 of Saveur
Serves 6-8
--1 cup flour, plus more for pan
--3⁄4 tsp. baking soda
--1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
(this is NOT coarse kosher salt--use a fine grain!)
--3/4 cup white sugar
--1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
--1⁄2 cup canola oil
--1⁄3 cup buttermilk
--1 tsp. vanilla
--1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
--2⁄3 cup chopped pecans
--1/2 tsp. cinnamon
--3 very ripe bananas, mashed

--2 Tbsps. honey(preferably a dark grade like buckwheat)

1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9" x 5" x 
2 3⁄4" loaf pan with butter and dust with flour; set pan aside.

2. Mash bananas with a fork, add 2 Tbsps. honey and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.

4. Crack 2 eggs into a small bowl (reserve extra can freeze this is an ice cube tray for another use or use for a meringue or omelet!). Add vanilla w/eggs; set aside

5. Whisk sugars and oil until smooth in a medium bowl. Add eggs/vanilla, combine until smooth. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk until just combined; do not over mix. Add pecans and mashed banana/honey mixture and fold gently to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean, 60–65 minutes.

Let cool for 30 minutes before diving in!

1. When adding nuts or chocolate chips, berries, etc. I take a small amount of the flour that is used in the recipe and toss that with the nuts/chips to coat so that they won't sink to the bottom of whatever you are making be it bread, muffins or a cake.

2. If you don't have buttermilk, don't fret. If you have milk and either lemon juice or white vinegar you've got a substitute. Put a Tblsp. of juice/vinegar in a measuring cup and then fill with milk until it reaches the 1 cup mark. Instant buttermilk. (It is not as good as a cultured buttermilk but it gets the job done; you want the acid in the lemon/vinegar to create a chemical reaction with the baking soda).

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