Waste Not, Want Not (BBB January 2023)

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BBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: recipe for Banana (peel and all) Cinnamon Bread; it’s the wildest; experimenting; Bread Baking Babes (BBB) project; nailed it!
kati
Knock knock.
     Who’s there?
Banana.
     Banana Who?

Bread Baking Babes: Wild Banana (Peel and All) Bread (or Buns), January 2023

BBB January 2023
Nailed It!
(so well that the cinnamon/sugar spiral could not be added)

One of our friends was raving about the banana bread he had made using the Washington Post recipe for “Don’t Peel Your Banana Bread”.

He said he has used this banana preparation method for banana quickbread and smoothies. I immediately thought that for the new year, we have to try this new (at least it was new to me) method of preparing bananas. But in yeasted bread…. 

The peel makes up 30% to 40% of the banana, and humans discard approximately 3.5 million tons of them every year. Anything we can collectively do to cut back on food waste is a good thing. […] If you’ve been wondering if you can eat raw, cooked or even frozen banana peels, the answer is yes! If you are going to eat your banana peel, know that—just like the fruit itself—the riper the peel, the sweeter it will taste.
 
– Carolyn Malcoun, Eating Well | Can You Eat Banana Peels?

A while back (2008!!) I made banana dough cinnamon buns that were really delicious. This past December, I decided to alter the recipe to make it with wild yeast. And, in excitement, leapt right in. 

Well. With two whole bananas (peel and all), the resulting dough was SO gloppy! With sluggish rising. Sigh. I had to add 1/4 tsp yeast. And more flour. A significant amount more flour. Wahhhhhh!

I crossed my fingers to make the dough rise so I wouldn’t have to toss it all into the compost bin.

The dough’s continued pudding-like consistency had made it impossible to shape. It was so impossible that I was unable to add the cinnamon swirl. I simply poured it into parchment papered pyrex bread pans, sprinkled a few pepitas on top, and hoped for the best. 

The resulting bread was edible – actually more than edible – it was pretty darn delicious. The banana flavour was quite delicate. The colour of the bread was quite dark. Therefore, half the residents refused to eat it. Because it wasn’t sweet enough, and it wasn’t banana bread.

I had to go back to the drawing board with the recipe. I took away one of the bananas. Again, I suspect that half the residents will turn his nose up. But I will make actual banana bread first so he can’t complain….

The following is what I came up with. Alas, it may not be very banana-y. But, I think it will still quite delicious. If you want it to be more banana-y, perhaps you can add some banana to the filling for the swirl. 

Here is the photo of the failed bread from December that actually turned out to taste pretty darn good:

wild banana bread FAIL

And here is how things went making this January’s BBB project:

BBB Wild Banana (peel and all) Bread diary:

26 December 2022, 14:25 Ah, nothing says Boxing Day like defrosting the freezer! When I was there, I came across 3 bananas that I stuck in the freezer about 2 weeks ago.

Because T is really wanting standard peel-and-all banana quickbread, I will have to make it first, before I make the BBB bread. Otherwise I will never hear the end of it.

27 December 2022, 13:01 Most of the websites talking about using the peel have cautionary notes saying to use “organic” bananas. But, having read Mark Bittman’s book, “Animal, Vegetable, Junk” recently, it seems the word “organic” doesn’t mean all that much.

This was brought home to us on Christmas Day when we realized that we had neglected to buy carrots to snack on before dinner, as well as use for making stock. Our wonderful neighbours came to our rescue, and gave us an unopened bag of organic “Baby-Cut Carrots”. They’re pre-peeled! But, of course, they’re prepeeled because every single carrot in the bag is the same size – each “carrot” clearly cut down from actual large carrots. Who knows what they have been stored in to keep them “fresh”. They are quite crisp, but there is a distinct stink of mildew. Even after washing with soap and rinsing with vinegar water, there is still a hint of mildew. And yet, the bag says “USDA organic”, “healthy by choice”, “peeled”, “ready to eat”, and “best if used by Dec 31 22”. There is zero mention of the need for rinsing off water ever nightmare solution was used before sealing the Baby-Cut Carrots in a plastic bag. Organic, indeed. As if. :stomp: :stomp:

USDA Organic identifies foods that are grown without synthetic ferilizers or pesticides (there are some exceptions), without GMOs, and without radiation, a rearely used food safety technique. […] To be labeled organic, processed food must contain no “artificial” ingredients, though that rule has been loosened. And there are levels of organic, too. [In the USA,] “Made with Organic” means the product contains at least seventy percent organic ingredients; the remaining thirty percent can contain no prohibited ingredients, such as food grown with synthetic fertilizers or GMOs. […] The [USDA] agency codified “organic” in the narrowest possible way, […] design[ing] it for Big Food to employ “organic” as a marketing tool. […] [T]here is no requirement that organic food be of good quality […] It may have a massive carbon footprint, be grown and harvested by near slaves, […] and still be “organic”. […]
      It may not even be that: Imported food with the USDA Organic label is required to mee the same standards as that raised domestically. But the inspection procees has always been inadequate […], so there’s no guarantee that certification is genuine.
 
– Mark Bittman, chapter 13 ‘The Resistance’, Animal Vegetable Junk

And it just gets more and more depressing, doesn’t it?

4 January 2023, 13:29 I have just put regular banana quickbread into the oven, as per my promise to make for T before trying again with this yeasted version.

While I was making the bread, I learned something about pulverizing the bananas. This time, after defrosting them, I peeled them and put the insides into the bowl along with the sugar – to attempt to stop them from going brown right away. It seems to work….

I cut the banana peels into chunks and put them into our Magic Bullet along with the oil that is called for in our banana quickbread recipe. This made it so the machine was able to completely pulverize the peels.

Therefore, when I re-make the wild yeast banana bread, I will add at least some of the water to help grind up those fibrous skins. I’ll add a note to the recipe about this.

11 January 2023, 13:44 It turns out that some of the BBBabes can’t/won’t eat bananas. I completely understand. I have gone through phases when, under no circumstances, will I even tolerate being in the same room as a banana, let alone eat one.

Therefore, it was negligent of me not to anticipate that there would be people who refuse to eat bananas. I’ve added a note about it at the bottom of the recipe, offering an alternative.

13:55 Watching the news, I can’t help worrying about everyone in California. Yikes. Very scary.

12 January 2023, 12:14 I’m planning on making the bread tomorrow and suddenly noticed the date. It will be Friday the 13th. Eeek!!! I hope that doesn’t bode ill.

We are so envious of Aparna. She says there are several different kinds of bananas available to her and asked if I meant “Cavendish”. I WISH we lived where so many different kinds of bananas are available. Here, bananas are simply labelled “bananas”. I had to look “Cavendish” up to see that, yes, those look like bananas available to us. But I suspect whatever bananas are liked best can be used. Very occasionally, those tiny finger sized bananas appear on the shelves at exorbitant prices. I’ve always wanted to try them but usually we nix the idea because a.) they’ve travelled so far, b.) they’re green, and c.) they’re insanely expensive.

Aparna also asked if the bananas had to be frozen. I believe that the reason the bananas are frozen is to help break down the fibrousness of the skin. This is also why I suggest mashing the inside of the banana by itself (with a little sugar to stop browning, but lemon juice would work too), and pulverizing the skin along with some of the liquid. The skin, even after freezing, is still reluctant to be mashed entirely unless there is liquid added.

13 January 2023, 11:08 Eeeeek! It’s Friday! And. WHAT on earth is all that white stuff on the ground and covering the branches? :stomp: :stomp: I know we’re in Canada. Sure it’s pretty, but come on!

Happy Friday the 13th!
Happy Friday the 13th!
What’s that?!

13:11 I am ceaselessly amazed to hear a new word/name and then, virtually right away, hear it again in a completely different concept. This time, it was “Cavendish”, and the answer to Aparna’s question about what kind of bananas this month’s BBB recipe calls for. It appeared today in our current read-aloud book that we received for Christmas:
I love scratch ‘n’ sniff bananas. They didn’t smell like bananas, of course. They smelled like the Platonic ideal of bananas. […] [M]any purportedly natural scents are already shaped by human intervention, including the banana. In the U.S. at least, there is only one banana cultivar in most grocery stores, the Cavendish banana, which didn’t exist two hundred years ago and was not widely distributed utntil the 1950s.
 
– John Green, “Scratch ‘n’ Sniff Stickers”, The Anthropocene Reviewed, p.43-45

Does this mean that we’ve been hearing “Cavendish” bananas all along and just ignoring the name?

16:01 Well. I may have erred on how much liquid not to add at the beginning of mixing. :lalala: With such stiff dough after the first stage, it was not at all easy to add the banana sludge and salt. (I’ve put a note about this in the recipe.)

The dough is now rather lumpy and quite liquid. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

I know the others are good at fixing things as they go and that theirs will turn out really well. Fingers crossed that I can rescue this.

17:11 I used our Magic Bullet to pulverize the banana peel. And my hands to mix the dough that is still pretty much a sloppy mess. (Kelly said she used her Ank mixer; I don’t even know what an ank mixer is….) I confess that I’m getting worried about dealing with potential disapproving looks from the resident expert.

Sigh.

18:21 Well. The dough finally looks like dough instead of a disgusting gloppy mess. I had to resort to using my ancient method for slack dough: to scatter a decent amount of flour on the board, pour the sludge on, then carefully fold it in on itself with the dough scraper. It’s quite amazing how the dough suddenly smooths out.

I’m not sure WHEN I’m going to finish this bread. But I am sure that I really hope the others aren’t encountering the same nightmares that I am! (Perhaps this is all part of Friday 13th?)

Happy Friday the 13th!

20:15 It’s a miracle!! At last the dough is rising beautifully. Who says that Friday the 13th is unlucky?! :stomp: :stomp:

Wild yeast dough

22:25 I confess that I really wanted to be doing this much earlier than now, but there I was a moment ago, shaping the dough. It looked good but was still a little sticky as I was about to attempt to roll it out. I realized the rolling pin was out of the question. So I pulled it into two rectangles like pizza.

As I was slathering the cinnamon/sugar/butter onto the dough, I realized that, for us anyway, there should be salt. After all, Mum always used salted butter in her cinnamon buns, and they were stellar. (I’ve added a “salt, optional” to the recipe.)

Instead of shaping a loaf and buns, I made a ring and buns. Maybe, just maybe, 100% of the residents will be excited to eat this bread!

22:48 The oven is preheating. Fingers crossed that I didn’t jump the gun with this.

14 January 2023, 00:57 Finally!! I think. Both bread and buns smell great and look not at all terrible. Fingers crossed that they will taste good.

Is it time for breakfast yet?

(I did consider refrigerating before baking, but having never had the greatest success with that, I took my chances. Naturally, I’m prepared for disappointment and judgmental looks….)

The next morning, we warmed up 4 of the buns. They smelled good! And they tasted good! (Alas, the texture wasn’t quite right for 50% of the household – the 50% that wants soft fluffy crumb rather than chewy bread….)

BBB January 2023
BBB January 2023

Yesterday, we cut into the ring. Again, I liked it! It might not have had the most perfect spirals but it smelled and tasted delicious. (Alas, the texture wasn’t quite right again for 50% of the household – the 50% that wants soft fluffy crumb rather than chewy bread… The ring bread was a little closer than the buns, but not close enough.)

January 2023
BBB January 2023

Below is the BBB recipe for January. Please do give it a try. (Before saying “no”, do take a look at the others’ bread; theirs turned out beautifully!)

Wild Banana (peel and all) Cinnamon Bread (or Buns)
based on a recipe in the “Tassajara Bread Book” by Edward Espe Brown, with notes about the recipe from “Bread Alone” by Judith Ryan Hendricks, and the method for using ALL of the banana in the Washington Post’s recipe for “Don’t Peel Your Banana Bread” (quickbread)
adapted from a recipe in the “Tassajara Bread Book” by Edward Espe Brown, with notes about the recipe from “Bread Alone” by Judith Ryan Hendricks, and the method for using ALL of the banana in the Washington Post’s recipe for “Don’t Peel Your Banana Bread” (quickbread)

I cannot believe how cool it is that all of the banana can be eaten!

Banana

  • 1 ripe banana, washed thoroughly, and frozen

Leavener

  • 50 grams (98 ml) whole wheat flour
  • 50 grams (50 ml) water
  • spoonful (~15 grams) wild yeast starter from the fridge

Dough

  • 410 grams (3+1/3 c) unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 10 grams (1 Tbsp) buckwheat flour
  • 12 grams (24 ml) wheat germ
  • 30 grams (30 ml) plain yoghurt
  • 170 grams (170 ml) water
  • 2 Tbsp (27 grams) vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
  • all of the leavener from above
  • banana from above, thawed
  • 14 grams (1 Tbsp) brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 8 grams (generous 1 tsp) seasalt + 10 grams (10ml) water

Filling

  • 60 grams (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • 28 grams (2 Tbsp) brown sugar
  • 25 grams (2 Tbsp) white sugar
  • ground cinnamon (or a mixture of ginger and cinnamon), to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • handful or two of pepitas and/or raisins, optional
  1. prepare the banana: Two days before you plan to bake the bread: thoroughly wash a ripe bananas (ideally, the banana should be well-mottled with black spots). Just to be sure that any oil-based pesticides are removed, for washing, I use bio-degradable dish-soap (NOT antibacterial!) and water, plus plenty more water to rinse. Dry the banana, then cut the stem and bottom edge off (put those into the compost), and place the banana in a freezer bag to freeze. The next morning on the day before you plan to bake the bread: take the banana out of the freezer and put it (still in its freezer bag) into the fridge to thaw.
  2. leavener: The night before you plan to bake the bread: mix leavener ingredients in a smallish bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight in the oven with only the light turned on if it’s cool at night, (or with the light turned off if it’s warm in the kitchen).
  3. dough: On the morning of the day you will be baking the bread:
    • check the leavener: see if a small spoonful floats in a bowl of cool water. It probably will. But, if the leavener has a concave surface, sprinkle in a little more whole wheat flour and the same amount by weight of water. Stir, cover and let rest for about 30 minutes to check again. It’s very likely that it will float. When it floats, proceed with making the dough.
    • dry ingredients and leavener: Sift the all-purpose flour into a mixing bowl large enough for the final dough to triple. Add the buckwheat flour and wheat germ, and all of the leavener from above. Add yoghurt, 120 grams [change that to 150 grams] water, all the vegetable oil, and all of the leavener to the bowl. Use a wooden spoon (or dough whisk) to mix everything in the bowl together to make a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter for about 40 minutes.
    • banana again: The Washington Post’s “Don’t Peel Your Banana Bread” recipe is based on the recipe for Zingerman’s Bakehouse Banana Bread. That recipe has the best explanation for how to prepare the bananas for the dough itself:
      1. Prepare the bananas. […] Defrost. As the bananas freeze and defrost they will turn black. They do not need to be black prior to freezing. […] Puree until they are a smooth paste. You may see tiny dark specks of the peel. This is fine.
       
      – Ypsilanti Library (Michigan): Zingerman’s Bakehouse Banana Bread Recipe (pdf)

      I found it easier to cut the banana into chunks before puréeing it. I also left some all of the inside pulp in the bowl before pulverizing the rest. Using a wooden spoon, stir the brown sugar into the pulp of the banana purée.
       
      Put the rest of the water (20 grams) in with the peels. Please don’t be alarmed about the very dark colour that results from puréeing. It will simply make the final dough a little darker colour. Put the purée into a smallish bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mix the puréed peel into the banana sludge. Dump this mixture on top of the dough that has been resting.
    • adding the egg and salt: in a small bowl, lightly beat the egg with the salt and 10 grams water. Pour this mixture over top of the banana mixture.
    • Kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh the banana/sugar/egg/salt/water mixture into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like maybe it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than weirdly folded, slimy glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Don’t be overly terrified that the dough seems to stay really gloppy and sticky. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
      The dough will be kind of sticky and pretty loose. I added a couple of extra tablespoons of flour to bring the dough together, but it wasn’t that easy to shape. To get a rounded top, after placing the dough in the refrigerator, I tightened the dough by sliding an oiled dough scraper down the sides once the dough was in the pan.
       
      – Karen K, Karen’s Kitchen Stories | Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread
    • Repeat the above step 2 or 3 more times.

  4. filling: melt the butter and allow it to cool to room temperature. Combine the sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cover and set aside at warm room temperature.
  5. shaping: when the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured board. Divide into 2 equal pieces.
    • loaf: Gently shape the dough into a flat rectangle that is about 2 centimeters thick. Smear the filling over the rectangle and roll like a jelly roll, from the narrow side. Put the roll seam side down in parchment paper covered bread tin. (This is enough dough to make two loaves) Run your hands under water and gently wet the top of the shaped bread. If you’re using them, scatter pepitas on top. Cover the tins with a damp clean tea towel and let rise at warm room temperature until almost double. To test if it has risen enough, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.
    • buns: Using a lightly floured wooden rolling pin, roll one of the pieces, as thinly as you can, into a long rectangle. Evenly slather the top of the rectangle with half the melted butter and half the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll the rectangle up as tightly as you can to form a long tube. Cut diagonally and use a chopstick to press down the centers so that the spiral flares out.
      banana buns shaping
      Place well apart on parchment covered cookie sheet. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover the shaped buns with a damp tea towel and let sit in a warm, non-drafty spot until they have almost doubled.
  6. preheat the oven: A half hour before baking, turn the oven to 400F.
  7. baking: Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the loaves or buns are golden. But first:
    • bread: Just before baking, liberally spray the tops of loaves with water. Put the bread on the middle shelf of the oven, immediately turning the oven down to 375F (the sugar wants to burn…).
    • buns: Put the buns on the top shelf of the oven, immediately turning the oven down to 375F. Half way through baking, turn the buns around and turn the oven down to 350F; with all that sugar, the bottoms of the buns really want to burn.
  8. cooling: If you have made buns, place them still on the parchment paper on a footed rack on the counter to cool completely. If you have made bread, remove it from the pan, and place the loaf on its side to cool on the footed rack. Check to see that the bread is done by rapping it on the bottom; it should sound hollow like a drum. If you only hear dull thuds, put the bread back into the still hot oven – directly on the rack (there’s no need to put it back into the tins – for 5 or 10 minutes more. Once it is done, place it on the footed rack to cool completely before cutting into it. It is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.
    Set the bread on a rack and (this is one of the hardest parts of bread baking) keep your hands off that beautiful crusty bread for at least an hour, or until it is completely cool. You will be dying to cut into that gorgeous warm bread, the crust crackling as it cools, but remember that it’s still cooking inside; the crumb is still jelling, and the crust still developing. The crust will soften partway through the cooling time, but it will crisp again as it cools completely.
     
    – Thomas Keller, ‘Breads: Cooling’, Bouchon Bakery

~ ~ ~ ~

The bread is wonderful thinly sliced and toasted. The buns are equally wonderful, warmed and served with extra butter if you want. Of course you do.

You may notice little bits of banana in the dough. That’s okay. They will bake right into the bread and you won’t be able to see them once the loaf has baked.
 
– Karen K, Karen’s Kitchen Stories | Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread

Notes:

:: For those avoiding bananas: Having gone through phases when, under no circumstances, will I even tolerate being in the same room as a banana, let alone eat one, it occurs to me that others will feel the same. Please feel free to use another fruit instead (omitting the cinnamon swirl if it doesn’t make sense). For instance, I have made fabulous muffins that include a completely pulverized naval orange (peel and all). Dates and pecans go very well in them.

:: Cinnamon: Initially, I suggested using 5 grams (2 teaspoons) of cinnamon. But, with cinnamon, I am a little like some people are with bananas. I suddenly couldn’t add so much. Therefore, I took out the measurement for the spice, because I found myself suddenly thinking that, as I got to not quite 1 gram on the scale, the amount of cinnamon I was calling for was too much. Then, suddenly, my hand reached for the jar of powdered ginger and tossed some of that in without measuring at all.

:: Measuring units: It’s significantly easier to measure ingredients by weight – less clean up and less frantic rummaging through drawers and cupboards in search of cups and spoons. A digital scale is ideal, but a spring scale also works. If you do not have a scale, please look at this excellent online resource from Gourmet Sleuth: Cooking Conversions Calculator
There are so many variables present every time you begin a recipe: the heat of the kitchen, the ingredients, the calibration of your oven, to name just a few. Weighing rather than measuring by volume is a simple way of eliminating one big variable. […] When you measure by volume, the weight of an ingredient can differ each time. Once you get a scale, you can see for yourself how wide a range of weights a cup of flour can be, depending on how it is spooned or scooped or packed; it can vary in volume by as much as 50 percent depending on who’s doing the measuring, how the flour was stored and measured, and the humidity. […] Another example is salt — different salts are not equal in weight when measured by volume. A tablespoon of Diamond Crystal kosher salt (used in these recipes), for example, weighs only 60 percent of what a tablespoon of Morton kosher salt weighs.
 
– Susie Heller and Amy Vogler, ‘Throw Out Your Measuring Cups’, Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel

:: Salt: As seen from above, there’s a very good reason to weigh the salt, rather than use volume measures. According to Jennifer L Duque (RevelKitchen), one teaspoon of table salt weighs 6 grams, but depending on the brand, one teaspoon of Kosher salt weighs 3, 3.5, or 4 grams. One teaspoon of salt flakes (depending on the size of the flakes) weight 2.5 grams.
Salt has such a profound impact on heightening the flavor of food and does so in droves before ever tasting too salty. It is the most basic and most humbling seasoning — it enhances rather than adds additional flavors to foods, but its misapplication can easily bite any of us, from the most novice cook to world-renowned Top Chef Masters competitors. Salt can take the form of tiny grains, hefty crumbs, thin crystalline flakes, and many other shapes and densities. […] After using the same salt for a while, we acquire a sense for how salty these rudimentary measures will make food taste and can go along our merry way without fussing with measuring spoons. Switch up the salt, however, and you can get vastly different results.
 
– Jennifer L Duque, Revel Kitchen | How “salt” can be the kiss of life (or death) in cooking

For more raving about this, please see Salt is salt, right?

:: Sifting: Ever since early in the pandemic, when I had difficulty opening a bag of flour we managed to get (too much glue had been used to seal the bag; it had hardened and some shards of hardened glue dropped into the flour bag), I always sift all-purpose flour. Always. In the last week or so, every time I sifted all-purpose flour (using a sieve), there were two or three shards of unknown substance that might have been cardboard, or dried flour, or dried glue. Needless to say, those shards went directly into the compost bin.

Sifting is mandatory, even for self-rising flour. The sifting will catch any impurities in the flour, and mass-milled flour will have some mysterious specks here and there.
     “I sift all my flour,” [Momma] said. “Some people don’t, and I eat their bread, but I don’t really want to. You know, I just do it to be polite.”
 
– Rick Bragg, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table, chapter 1 “Them Shadows Get to Dancin'”, Butter Rolls

:: Starter (aka culture): Our starter is a 100% hydration, liquid levain. It takes about 5 days to create. (Please see our take on Jane Mason’s Natural Starter made with Wheat Flour.) Of course, if you don’t have a wild starter going, you can always use the recipe that calls for commercial yeast. You can also convert any recipe. Please see the following for how: converting recipe for wild yeast to one with domestic yeast (and vice versa)

:: Leavener and the float test: In the summer, our leavener can be quite active. We find that with the extra warmth in the kitchen, dough made with it tends to rise very quickly. Therefore, we feed it late at night and again in the morning.

wild starter floating

Many people state categorically that the float test is unreliable, useless, and/or “bogus”. I have been tricked when merely looking at our starter – it appears to have doubled and be quite aerated. But it does NOT float. I feed it with a small amount of flour and check it a half hour or so later. The starter then has a slightly domed shape and DOES pass the float test, indicating that it is at its peak.

Sure, for pancakes, it’s probably not absolutely necessary to check for floating. These pancakes will still become pancakes because of the baking soda and egg. But really, it’s not that hard to do the float test. So why not just do it, for peace of mind?

Here are three reasons that I am a diehard float tester:
1.)
[It] might be the case that your starter is rising, but you’re not there to see it. If you feed at night, it might be rising up while you’re asleep, and by morning it has fallen again, so it looks the same.
 
– Donna Currie, Serious Eats
| Sourdough Starter Frequently Asked Questions

2.)
The best time to mix your starter into your dough is when it’s achieved its maximum rise and is just starting to fall, because that’s when the yeast activity is going to be at its maximum.
 
– the Regular Chef, YouTube: 5 Ways To Get A Better Oven Spring | Sourdough Bread Tips
3.)
The most reliable indication that your leaven is ready is if it floats in water, a result of the carbon dioxide gas produced by wild yeast activity. To test the readiness of your leaven, drop a spoonful of it into a bowl of moderate room-temperature water. If it sinks, it is not ready to use and needs more time to ferment and ripen. You can expedite the fermentation by putting the leaven in a warm place and checking again after half an hour. Or you can [feed] the leaven […] [to give] it fresh resources to ferment and ripen. Let the new mixture ferment until it passes the float test.
 
– Chad Robertson, Tartine Bread, p45-47

I am in complete awe of all the intuitive sourdough bakers out there who are producing brilliant bread after brilliant bread without doing the float test. But for me, it is an important step to ensure that our bread rises rather than becoming a doorstop destined for immediately becoming bread crumbs. Or worse, compost.

:: Buckwheat and wheat germ With such small amounts, the buckwheat and wheat germ aren’t entirely necessary. Especially the buckwheat. However, I make it a habit to add the wheat germ because I suspect that most of the wheat germ has been removed and NOT put back when the flour is milled. Wheat germ spoils really easily (we keep ours in the freezer). Our flour, on the other hand, seemingly lasts forever. We don’t have room for 10kg bags in the freezer.
When millers mill wheat, they scrupulously sheer off the most nutritious parts of the seed—the coat of bran and the embryo, or germ, that it protects—and sell that off, retaining the least nourishing part to feed us. In effect, they’re throwing away the best 25 percent of the seed […] Whole-grain flour tends to go “off” within several weeks of being milled, releasing an unmistakable odor of rancidity. Part of what makes the germ so nutritious—its unsaturated omega-3 fats—also makes it unstable, and prone to oxidation.
[…]
[The germ] is always removed at the beginning of the milling process, even when making “whole” wheat flour. […] Most commercial whole-wheat flour is actually white flour to which the bran and germ have been added back in. […] [A]n experienced miller by the name of Joe Vanderliet […] claims that many large mills, including ones he used to work for, simply leave the germ out of their “whole-grain” flour “because it’s just too much trouble”
 
– Michael Pollan, ‘Thinking like a Seed’, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

:: Kind of pan: We only have pyrex bread pans now (I can’t remember now why we threw the metal ones out…). I thought about using the pyrex bread pan, but then remembered the following:
I just finished reading SAVEUR magazine #114 (The Breakfast Issue) and there in the kitchen notes was a panel talking about all the trials they had gone through baking cinnamon buns:
One batch would […be…] perfectly risen and golden brown on the outside but gooey and undercooked within; the next batch would look great on the inside but have a blackened bottom
They tried pyrex (glass heats too slowly so the buns had oozed over the sides by the time they were cooked); then they tried dark non-stick metal pan (pan heated too quickly so the buns burned on the bottom); then they tried light-coloured aluminum (the buns were juuuuuust right).
 
– me, blog from OUR kitchen | Banana Cinnamon Buns are delicious! (Bookmarked Recipes #24)

Therefore, I decided to make a free-form ring instead of a loaf and bake both ring and buns on the 2nd from the top shelf. This time: YAY!! No burned bottoms!

 

BBB January 2023

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Keep Baking

As you know, I am hosting January 2023’s Bread Baking Babes’ project.

And we know you neeeeeeed to try making banana (peel and all) bread too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site, post about your greetings to Spring adventure in the next couple of weeks (we love to see how your project turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 January 2023.

Here’s how to let us know:

  • email me
    » Remember to include your name and a link to your post
    » Please type “BBB April 2022” in the subject heading

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your BBB project in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please email if you want to be included.

If you don’t have a blog or flickr-like account, no problem; we still want to see and hear about your bread! Please email me with the details, so your mlyntsi (blini) can be included in the roundup too.

For complete details about this month’s project, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ January 2023 banana breads. But please don’t judge them harshly if they decided not to use the banana peel. Banana peels aren’t for everyone!

 

[B]anana peels are not only edible but also rich in several key nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fats, and essential amino acids. […] Pesticides are often used to produce conventional bananas. […] [W]ash the peel thoroughly before consuming it to help minimize pesticide exposure. […] [B]e sure to pick very ripe bananas, as the peels of these bananas are often sweeter and thinner, which may make them more appealing. To prepare the banana, simply remove the stem and wash the peel thoroughly.
 
– Rachael Link MS RD, Healthline | Can You Eat Banana Peels?

Peeled bananas are generally tainted with very few pesticide residues, according to USDA analyses, probably because those tested are peeled first. In 2012 USDA scientists found just four fungicides on bananas they analyzed, compared to 10 on plums (USDA 2012b).
     However, industrial banana farming is pesticide-intensive because bananas are grown in massive monocultures, without crop rotation. These ill-advised methods render the plants vulnerable to insect pests and fungal diseases. Some experts estimate that banana cultivators use 35 pounds of pesticide per acre
 
– Sonya Lunder (EWG), Environmental Working Group | Banana Cultivation Is Pesticide-Intensive
[I]t turns out that banana peels are edible. The peel of a banana is tough and bitter, so it usually ends up in the trash. However, it’s possible to not only eat banana peels but to enjoy them as well. […] Bananas are also rich in important nutrients like potassium, polyunsaturated fats and essential amino acids. A 2012 study [“Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Activities of Extracts from Musa sapientum Peel” by Pathompong Phuaklee MSc, Srisopa Ruangnoo MPharm, Arunporn Itharat PhD, Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand Vol. 95 Suppl. 1 2012] discovered that compounds in banana peels have anti-inflammatory properties as well.
[…]
As a banana ripens, the peel becomes thinner and sweeter. This makes it easier to cook or bake with. Once you’ve chosen a nice, ripe banana, cut off the thick stem and you’re ready to go. […] While it is safe to eat banana peels, it’s important to wash them thoroughly first. According to the Environmental Working Group, bananas are grown in a pesticide-intensive environment. This means that chemical residues may be left on the peel when you buy your bananas from a store.
 
– Carrie Madormo RN, Taste of Home | Can You Eat Banana Peels?

This entry was posted in baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes, whine, wild yeast (sourdough) on by .

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6 responses to “Waste Not, Want Not (BBB January 2023)

  1. Karen's Kitchen Stories (Karen's Kitchen Stories)

    One of these days I’ll experiment with the banana peel. I really wanted to this time but ran out of time (you know about that, right?). I suspect my peel wasn’t ripe enough. Thus, the underripe odor. I did discover that baking a banana whole will ripen it, which is really cool. I can’t wait to try that Finnish shaping method.

    edit 16 January 2023, 16:52: Why, yes, Karen, I know EVERYTHING about running out of time. I have a double doctorate in running out of time. :lalala: Do try the Finnish shaping method. If I hadn’t been so anxious to bake the stupid things (it was past midnight when I decided to turn the oven on – before the buns had really doubled), I think they would have turned out to be way less chewy and perhaps passed the resident critic’s rigorous texture tests for cinnamon buns.
     
    Too bad about that unpleasant smell to your peel! I did not know that baking a banana whole would ripen it! Does it make the peel less underripe smelling too?
     
    – Elizabeth

    Reply
  2. Kelly (A Messy Kitchen)

    Well, with all the apprehension of the technique and history, this was a pleasant surprise! It is a thumbs up from the 3 of 4 residents that have tried it so far.

    edit 16 January 2023, 16:58: This is so exciting, Kelly!! 75% is a much better score than 50%! (I know exactly what you mean about apprehension. I was quite apprehensive too.) – Elizabeth

    Reply
  3. Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms)

    Glad to read that your dough was difficult to handle, too. Now I don’t feel so bad about adding some additional flour. My bread wasn’t soft and fluffy, either, but it was chewy and delicious, which I like. Thanks for challenging us with this bread. Maybe one day I’ll return to eating bananas and can try the real recipe, but it was fun to try it with seasonal persimmons from our own tree and I never would have if you hadn’t chosen this recipe! Yay for your daring ways!

    edit 16 January 2023, 17:00: I’m really glad you liked the chewy texture of your bread, Elle. And, yes, if you do return to bananas (I was off them for at least 20 years – I blame James Michener, as well as a horribly overripe banana that I foolishly sliced and put onto cereal), I think you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was. But. Using persimmons from your own tree! I’m suitably envious. – Elizabeth

    Reply
  4. Cathy (Bread Experience)

    Thanks for the challenge Elizabeth! I went with a different dough altogether, but I did use the whole banana peel and all. Next time, I need to chop the peel smaller, but other than that, it was fine. I like your Finnish-shaped loaf.

    edit 16 January 2023, 17:06: I’m so glad you used the peel, Cathy! Even if it didn’t get puréed quite as much as hoped. It certainly doesn’t look like it had an adverse effect on the banana cinnamon rolls you made. They look wonderful. – Elizabeth

    Reply
  5. Aparna (My Diverse Kitchen)

    Thanks for a lovely recipe Elizabeth. I must confess I couldn’t bring myself to add the peel and I’m sorry about that. I also went non-sourdough. I added banana to my filling for extra flavour and the ginger was magical. On the whole, it was an absolutely delicious bread.

    edit 18 January 2023, 19:19: Next time, Aparna, next time you can add the peel. :-) I’m glad you like the recipe, and I agree! The addition of ginger is a keeper. – Elizabeth

    Reply
  6. Katie Zeller (Thyme for Cooking)

    Interesting response from the Babes…. All of their loaves / buns were beautiful, even if they may have strayed from the recipes.
    Wait…. Someone / most always stray from the recipe.
    On another note – will sifting catch the worms? It seems all of my flour is buggy lately. And my oatmeal and brown rice. I may need to change supermarkets.

    edit 18 January 2023, 19:21: Yes. There was a lot of straying this time, Katie, wasn’t there? Perhaps a little more than I expected. (And I expected at least some straying too.) But it’s not as if I haven’t done similar things. (My most spectacular time was when I made chicken and almond stir-fry but instead of chicken I used fish and instead of almonds I use sesame seeds.)
     
    As for the sifting to remove creatures. It’s my suspicion that this is exactly why so many older recipes call for sifted flour! Too bad about your stuff being infested! Do you have room in your freezer to put the flour/oatmeal/brown rice? That might get rid of the still living creatures, as well as destroy the eggs. Then sifting might do the trick if you don’t want to ingest whatever creatures are there. Although… sifting oatmeal and rice isn’t exactly easy, is it?
     
    – Elizabeth

    Reply

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