Twisting and Turning: Banana Cinnamon Buns Revisited

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summary: revisiting Banana Cinnamon Bread; Russian braiding; chia seeds and pepitas; submission for YeastSpotting and Bake Your Own Bread; (click on image(s) to see larger views and more photos)

When I was looking at the various breads made to celebrate Julia Child’s 100th birthday, I couldn’t stop myself from going back again and again to gaze at BreadSong’s beautiful Russian Braid that was twisted more to look like the stunningly beautiful yellow roses (Rosa ‘Julia Child’) in her garden.

banana cinnamon braid Further investigation of Breadsong’s braided bread led to Guru’s Caucasian Bread – Caucasian as in bread from the Caucasus. There are several traditional fillings for this kind of bread – most are savoury.

At first I was planning on making a savoury filling for the braid as well. But we had two very ripe bananas on the counter and I suddenly remembered about the fabulous banana cinnamon buns I made some time ago.

What could be better than that?

Naturally, I made changes to the recipe. How could I not? I decided to add some chia seeds to the dough. (I’m still considering sprinkling chia seeds all over our cat to see if we can have a roving chia pet.)

My notes told me to add another banana but we only had two. And now, after tasting this bread, we both agreed that two bananas is correct. The banana flavour is barely perceptible.

And then I thought I’d add rolled oats to the filling to have a sort of oatmeal cookie inside. I waffled, wondering if the oatmeal would get puddingy or if it would remain uncooked. And at the last minute, I found my hand reaching for the pepitas instead.

What a great choice!!

Here’s what I did to make this bread:

Banana Cinnamon Bread
based on OUR recipe for Banana Cinnamon Buns

dough

  • ¼ c (60ml) lukewarm water ¹
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp demerrara sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas ²
  • ¾ c water
  • ⅓ c skim milk powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • c unbleached all-purpose flour 5
  • 2 tsp seasalt

Filling

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened ³
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • handful or two of pepitas
  1. Please follow the mixing and kneading instructions for Banana Cinnamon Buns but add 2 Tbsp chia seeds to the dough and a handful or two of pepitas to the filling.
  2. banana cinnamon braid Shaping Scatter a light dusting of flour on the board. Turn the dough out and cut it in two. Fold each piece of dough in half, cover with a clean tea towel and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, line a small quiche pan with parchment paper and put another piece of parchment paper onto a cookie sheet.
    1. banana cinnamon braid 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 soft butter (a butter knife works, but your fingers are even better for spreading the butter on the dough). Evenly sprinkle half the sugar/cinnamon mixture over the butter. Scatter a handful or two of pepitas overtop. Roll the rectangle up as tightly as you can like a jelly roll to form a long tube.
    2. banana cinnamon braid Use a sharp knife or the dough scraper to cut the tube in half lengthwise. Turn the pieces so the lines from the cinnamon butter show. Fasten two ends of the halves and gently twist the two pieces together, keeping the cinnamon butter lines facing upward. When the twist is finished, loop it around to form a circle. Push the ends together with your fingers. Try to hide the join as best you can. Place the ring into the quiche pan.

    banana cinnamon braid Repeat with other piece of dough and place the ring onto the cookie sheet.

  3. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by a large plastic bag and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled.
  4. Baking When the rings have doubled, turn the oven to 350F. Spray liberally with water and put them on the TOP rack of the oven to prevent them from burning on the bottom. Bake for about 30 minutes in total, turning them around once half way through to account for uneven oven heat. The bread is done when it is golden on top and sounds hollow on the bottom (around 200F inside).
  5. Remove the bread from oven and allow to cool on a well ventilated rack. Wait until they are completely cool before eating them! They are still continuing to bake inside! 4

Notes:

1.) Water: Tap water is fine to use. Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Heat the water in a kettle or microwave (to create lukewarm water, add cold water until it is the correct temperature – use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist. Or… you can use a thermometer.) Please note that before the yeast is added, the water temperature should be BELOW 120F because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

2.) 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, two bananas do not add very much, if any, banana flavour at all. If you want the bread to have a distinctly banana flavour, add a third banana. You may have to add a bit more flour as well to account for the extra liquid.

3.) Butter: Cream cheese could easily be used in place of the butter.

4.) 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).

edit September 2013:
5.) How much flour??? When I was revisiting this recipe, I noticed a discrepancy. It said “3½ c unbleached all-purpose flour” but the title spec said “2+1/2 cups”. I looked again at the original scrawled recipe I had followed initially and while it was 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.

banana cinnamon braid I love this shaping! We gave the perfectly formed ring to friends but kept the rustic oval that appeared to have been shaped by a one-handed blind person for ourselves. The really great thing about the oval(ish) loaf is that even it looked beautiful once it was baked.

We were even more pleased with the look of the crumb when the bread was sliced. And the flavour was sublime.

YeastSpotting
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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 hosted by Heather (girlichef)

that 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.

BYOB Badge For more information about BYOB, please read the following:

 

banana cinnamon bread

 

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  • I have always wanted to make a twisted bread like this…I just love the look of it! And I really like that you put banana in it. Another must-try for my ever-growing list…. :)

    I know what you mean, Heather. My list just gets longer and longer too. (I’m just now today making bread that I have had bookmarked since 2009!) I hope you aren’t like me and won’t wait over 3 years to try the banana cinnamon bread. It’s phenomenally good. -Elizabeth