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Monday, 2 September 2013

Guess what I did with those overripe bananas…

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summary: recipe for Banana Cinnamon Chocolate Swirls Bread; off-topic anti-tofu rant; measuring and guesswork; chia seeds and pepitas; hand-kneading slack dough in the bowl; submission for YeastSpotting and Bake Your Own Bread; (click on image(s) to see larger views and more photos)

There will be no guesswork in our kitchen…

banana cinnamon bread There were four bananas lying in a brown spotted fragrant (no, no, let’s cut to the chase; they stank!) heap when I left for work on Saturday afternoon. That night, I was riding the subway home with one of my colleagues and wondered out loud what I should do with those bananas.

Her first suggestion was to make smoothies. But both she and I agreed that smoothies were all very well but perhaps not the most exciting thing. Suddenly, after reflecting for a moment, she enthusiastically suggested banana ice cream – but without any cream. From what I could understand, her banana ice cream is essentially frozen bananas that have decent quality cocoa powder stirred into them.

After I had unsquinched my face, she looked pityingly at me and said, “No!! It’s fantastic. It’s the best ice cream!”

Under normal circumstances, I trust her judgement. But, I ask you, can I really trust her in this case? I think not. After all, earlier, at dinner, she had actually admitted to liking tofu.

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

Okay, excuse me. My face is unsquinched again. I know it’s unfashionable to dislike tofu but there it is. I’ve said it. Now you know. Lock me up. Throw away the key.

Luckily, my colleague is also a friend. Luckily, she is quite forgiving and quickly ignored my anti-tofu transgression. She suggested that I make banana bread. With walnuts. And just as the subway door was closing after I got off at my stop, she called, “and chocolate chips! You have to put in chocolate chips! Or dark chocolate bar pieces!! All banana bread has to have chocolate!!”

Yes! Banana bread! That’s what I’d do with the bananas!

So, this morning, I put on a mask and ventured into the kitchen. There appeared to be a haze over the bananas. They were a little flatter than the day before and there was significantly less yellow showing. Significantly. Perhaps none.

Mercifully, there were only three bananas instead of four. In my absence, someone had made the ultimate sacrifice and eaten one of them.

I got out the recipe for Banana Cinnamon Bread.

The original notes told me to add three bananas rather than two. With two bananas, the banana flavour is hardly noticeable. I decided to see how the bread is with three bananas and began measuring.

I love measuring! My favourite method is with our digital scale. But I haven’t translated this particular recipe into weight measurements so I had to use cups and spoons. Those are fun too. There’s something so satisfying about fluffing up the flour and then shaking it ever so gently to make it even with the top of the cup. Using the back of the knife is good too, but that means the knife has to be washed.

Of course, the girl will be doing the washing. So why should I be concerned? (Oh yeah, wait. We let the girl go before she was even hired; I’m the girl….) So. No knife.

I happily teaspooned yeast into 100F water (temperature measured with our thermometer) whisked, then mashed bananas, stirred, went to the shelf to get the demerara sugar and…

Augh!! Only one teaspoon of demerara sugar left? :stomp: Who puts a virtually empty container of sugar away? :stomp: :stomp: Who doesn’t put “demerara sugar” onto the list on the fridge? :stomp: :stomp: :stomp: (Ummmmm, that would be me….)

And the guesswork began.

It started out slowly. I added what little demerara sugar we had and then thought, why not throw in a splash of honey   w i t h o u t   measuring exactly how much.

Then, as I was measuring the flour, I noticed a discrepancy in the recipe. It said “3½ c unbleached all-purpose flour” but the title spec said “2+1/2 cups”. huh?? I looked at the image of the original scrawled recipe I had followed initially…. Hmmm, that’s not much help! I’m guessing that when making half the recipe, I must have used 2+1/2 cups of flour if the full recipe said to use 6-8 cups. (I’ve made the correction to the blog post recipe)

Because I’d allowed myself to guess, I was quite casual with exactly how much flour went into the measuring cup. I stirred the flour in and it was pretty darn gloppy. That extra banana! So I added another half(ish) cup of flour: gloppiness reigns!!

I added another half(ish) cup of flour: as gloppy as ever!

I added another half(ish) cup of flour: not soooo gloppy now… I decided to leave well enough alone. I kneaded it in the bowl because it was so sloppy. What a good thing it is that I’m no longer afraid of slack dough. :-)

I covered it and left it on the counter as we had a leisurely breakfast.

While doing the breakfast dishes, I checked the dough. WHOA!! It had doubled already! I folded it down and we decided that we neeeeeeeded another bowl of cafe au lait. We slowly savoured the coffee and then realized it was way past time to get cracking with getting ready for dinner guests.

banana cinnamon bread Then I fashioned a tube pan with a metal cup and our large springform pan. I covered the bottom with parchment paper and buttered the sides.

The dough had doubled again… I folded it down once more.

We raked the living room and got out all the linens, plates, glasses and cutlery for the table in the garden (I love setting the table really early! That way there’s no chance that someone might use up all the forks while getting dinner ready) assuming that the weather office would be wrong about the rain in the evening.

I made the filling, deciding that R had a good idea to add chocolate chips. But we didn’t have any chocolate chips. But I am smart as a whip (cough) and I remembered that Ilva (Lucullian Delights) had added cocoa powder to her BBB nut roll coffee cake. Monkey see; monkee do.

banana cinnamon bread And in the time it took to make the filling, the dough was already ready for shaping. I used Jamie’s BBB coffee cake method for shaping, liberally slathering the top with milk and scattering pepitas. I covered it over with a plastic grocery bag and we headed out into the muggy day to get provisions for dinner.

banana cinnamon bread We were only gone for about an hour! The loaf was HUGE. Baking was a breeze with no burning on the bottom because I remembered to put it on the second shelf from the top.

Here’s what I did to make the bread:

Banana Cinnamon Chocolate Swirls Bread
based on OUR recipe for Banana Cinnamon Buns and the BBB yeasted nut roll coffee cake

dough

  • 1 c (250ml) 100F water ¹
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp demerrara sugar ²
  • ⅓ c skim milk powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp bulgur wheat
  • 3 ripe bananas ³
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • at least 2½ c unbleached all-purpose flour 4
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt

Filling

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted 5
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • handful or two of pecans, broken

Topping

  • milk
  • handful or two of pepitas
  • cinnamon
  1. Mixing: Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the yeast.
  2. Add the sugar, milk powder, lightly beaten egg, oil, chia seeds and bulgur. Using a wooden spoon, stir until smooth.
  3. Add the bananas and use a potato masher to squish them into the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Add the flours and salt and using a wooden spoon, stir until the flour is completely encorporated.
  5. Kneading in the bowl: Wash your hands well. Leave the kneading hand wet. Hold the bowl with your dry hand and slide your wet hand along the edge of the bowl down to the bottom of the bowl. Pull the bottom up and over to the opposite side at the top of the dough. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Repeat over and over until the dough begins to smooth out and you start seeing gluten strands. Have a fit that the dough is ridiculously wet and looks like batter. Use your dry hand to get the flour container and throw in another half cup of flour. Reach down to the bottom of the bowl and pull the dough over to the top. Plunge your hand right in and squidge and squeeze the flour into the slop. Have another fit that the dough is still ridiculously wet. Use your dry hand to get the flour container and throw in yet another half cup of flour. Note that it’s STILL to sloppy. Use your dry hand to get the flour container and throw in one more half cup of flour. Plunge your hand in once more and mix the flour into the slop. Breathe a sigh of relief that it’s beginning to look more like dough than batter. Do several more folds and turns. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter to rise to double (about an hour if the kitchen is warm). If you prefer to knead on a board, please read the following: hand-kneading slack dough
  6. If you’re not ready to shape the bread when the dough doubles, do a few folds and turns to strengthen the dough and give yourself more time. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter to rise to double (a little less than an hour if the kitchen is warm).
  7. Preparing the Pan: Put parchment paper on the bottom of a spring form pan. Cut an x and a + in the center and put a small steel cup through to create a tube pan. Cover the cup with parchment paper, sealing the edges with a bit of dough. Use an elastic band to keep the paper in place until the dough dries. Butter the sides of the springform pan. Cover with a net to stop the cat from licking the butter. Set aside until it’s time to shape the bread.
  8. Filling: Melt the butter in a smallish pot. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugars, cocoa, cinnamon and salt. Set aside until it’s time to shape the bread.
  9. Shaping: banana cinnamon braid Scatter a light dusting of flour on the board. Turn the dough out and fold the dough in half. Cut it in two. Put one piece to the side and cover it with a clean tea towel. Using a floured wooden rolling pin, roll one of the pieces into a large rectangle, as thinly as you can. Evenly slather the top of the rectangle with half the butter mixture (the back of a spoon works, but your fingers are even better). Leave about half an inch on each long edge for sealing. Scatter a handful of broken pecans overtop. Roll the rectangle up as tightly as you can like a jelly roll to form a long tube. Seal the edge and place the tube seam side UP in the spring form pan. Seal the ends together as best you can.
  10. Repeat with other piece of dough and place the tube seam side DOWN on top of the other tube already in the spring form pan.
  11. Brush liberally with milk. Scatter pepitas overtop and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover the pan with a clean tea towel followed by a large plastic bag and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled.
  12. Baking When the bread has doubled, turn the oven to 350F. Put the pan on the second to the TOP rack of the oven to prevent it from burning on the bottom. Bake for about 30 minutes in total, turning it around once half way through to account for uneven oven heat. The bread is done when it is golden on top and sounds hollow when tapped.
  13. Remove the bread from oven and allow to cool in the pan on a well ventilated rack for 10-20 minutes. Remove bread from the pan and allow it to continue cooling on the rack. Wait until it is completely cool before cutting into it – it is still continuing to bake inside! 6

Notes:

1.) 100F Water: Please do not use water from the hot water tap. (Read more here) Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. To create lukewarm water, add cold water until it is the correct temperature of 100F (38C). (If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can do the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist.) Please note that before the yeast is added, the water temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

2.) Demerara Sugar: Any brown sugar will do. Honey works too. White sugar could probably be substituted as well.

3.) Bananas: The bananas should be quite soft and ripe. (This is an ideal recipe for using up bananas that have turned quite brown but aren’t yet oozing liquid.) Surprisingly, even three bananas do not add a lot of banana flavour. Depending on the size of the bananas, you may have to add more flour to account for the extra liquid.

4.) Flour: While the recipe calls for just 2.5 cups of all purpose flour, if the day is particularly humid and your bananas are particularly large, you may have to add as much as another 1.5 cups of flour.

5.) Butter: If you have salted butter, use salted butter and omit the salt.

6.) But I LIKE warm bread If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after the loaf has cooled completely. To reheat UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven directly on a rack for ten minutes. If the bread happens to be is a little stale, put it into a paper bag first. Spray the bag liberally with water and place it in the hot oven until the bag is dry (about 10 minutes).

banana cinnamon bread I left it to cool as I getting dressed for dinner and decanted it just before our guests arrived.

It. Looked. Fabulous. Don’t you think?!

Ha!! Who needs to buy an actual tube pan? And I love this style of shaping!

When our friends arrived, as we were all exclaiming hellos and taking pre-dinner drink orders, our dinner guests gazed in awe at the bread. I must admit that I couldn’t stop admiring it either.

We retired to the garden and had the most wonderful dinner. The rain held off until we were just beginning to think that maybe it was time for dessert. We all scurried to clear the table and race inside to move to the front porch for dessert.

banana cinnamon bread T asked everyone if they’d like to have ice cream (home made, of course) and sliced peaches that we had just put up last week. Disappointed faces all around. And D said, “I’d like some of that cake we saw when we came in!”

Cake? Of course! Cake!

So we sliced into it, cutting good sized wedges and everyone was suitably amazed by the inside of the cake as well as the outside. Many thanks, once again, Jamie, for a terrific shaping method!

We slathered our pieces with butter and each took a bite. WOW! It really doesn’t get much better than this!

Surprisingly, the banana was still barely perceptible. The cocoa was a lovely addition. Next time, I think I’ll add more cinnamon to the filling.

There was still half a cake left. Guess what we had for a late Labour Day breakfast!

YeastSpotting
Yeastspotting - every Friday (wordle.net image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:

Bake Your Own Bread (BYOB)
BYOB is a monthly event that was hosted by Heather (girlichef) and has now been taken over by Carola (Sweet and That’s It). Heather wrote:

[BYOB] encourages you to start (or continue) getting comfortable baking bread in your own kitchen. Anything from simple quick breads to conquering that fear of yeast to making and nurturing your own sourdough starter. All levels of bakers are welcome to participate.

And Carola wrote:

Homemade bread is healthy! As healthy as you decide: choose the best ingredients (if you can afford it, organic and GMO free) and you’ll be surrounded by the most delicious scent and fascinated by the most delicious taste.

Let the adventure continue!

Sweet and That's it - BYOB For more information about BYOB, please read the following:

 

The following excerpt is from “Bread Alone: A Novel” by Judith Ryan Hendricks:

Tassajara yeasted banana bread is good - dense with whole wheat, minimally sweet with honey, the banana really only an aftertaste. But I know it can be improved. On impluse, I cut a piece and take it to work with me. Linda handles it like it might be radioactive.
    "What's in it?" she demands.
    "You tell me. Taste it."
    She chews like a cow, her lower jaw making a complete rotation. "Cinnamon." She swallows. She looks up at the ceiling, side to side.
    "What else?"
    "I don't know. Somethin' else. Come on, I haven't got all night. What's in it?"
    "Banana."
    "In yeast bread?" She looks outraged, then disgusted, then she takes another bite. "Yeah, it's banana all right. Can't hardly tell it."
    "Isn't it good?"
    She shrugs. "Why bother putting banana in it if you don't even know it's there?"

[...]
    "I think it could use something else . . ."
    "Yeah, like more banana." She cracks herself up.
    "I was thinking nuts. Maybe hazelnuts. What do you - "
    She shakes her head vehemently. "No sir. I tell you what it needs. It needs more cinnamon. And sugar."
    I stare at her. "Damn, Linda. I think you're right. Make it like a cinnamon swirl bread."

[...]
I add two more bananas to tenderize as well as flavor the dough, pat it into a rectangle, brush it with melted butter, sprinkle it with brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins, roll it into two fat spirals. It gives off an almost narcotic aroma while it's baking so that it takes all my willpower to wait for it to cool before cutting into it. I let the loaves sit for fifteen minutes, turn them out of the pans, and drizzle a bit of confectioners' sugar glaze over the tops.
    Sitting at my table with a warm slice of banana-cinnamon swirl bread and a glass of cold milk, I think it doesn't get much better than this.

-Judith Ryan Hendricks, Bread Alone: A Novel, p. 168-170

This novel may not be the best book in the world, but interspersed throughout are some very good bread recipes. It’s worth it to get the book out of the library just for those. (I wouldn’t bother with the sequel though.)

 

1 Comment for Guess what I did with those overripe bananas…” »

  1. Comment by Ckay — 2 September 2013 @ 16:39 EDT

    Oh Elizabeth, I was so excited to find your link up on the “Bake Your Own Bread-Il Cestino del Pane” page. Thank you so much for sharing this delicious bread, you made my day. Your cake looks amazing: you’ve become a “shaping expert”.
    Last week I had your same “sweet problem”: What to do with ripe bananas and finally I made gingerbread banana muffins: they were really delicious.
    So if at Xmas time you still have ripe bananas, try it out ;-)
    All the best and thank you for writing about “BYOB” on your blog. So kind of you.

    Gingerbread banana muffins do sound awfully good, C. But I sure hope we don’t have ripe bananas lurking around from now until Xmas! :stomp: :stomp: (We may just have to try your muffins earlier.) -E

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