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Banana Bread

20 Mar

I have a confession.  I don’t actually like bananas on their own.  It’s a texture issue really… But I never actually admit this to anyone.  So when I buy bananas, I let them sit on my counter.  For a long time.  When people come over, they’ll say things like, “Oh, that’s awful!  Your bananas went bad!”  Or, “Ugh, can you believe how quickly fruit spoils these days?!”  And, I’ll commiserate.  But, really, inside?  I am dancing with glee!  And singing to myself, “Banana bread!  Banana Bread!  It’s Banana bread time!”  Because, yes, that’s right.  The *only* reason that I buy bananas is to make banana bread.

Banana Bread

But another funny confession about me and banana bread?  I never make the same recipe twice.  I’m compulsive.  Even if I’ve loved it, I keep searching for that one *perfect* loaf.  This one, though, fits many of my criteria: it’s moist, very strongly banana-ish, and has none of those pesky, distracting nuts.

Banana Bread*

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 5 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/8 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Before making the dough, you’ll need to first preheat the oven to 350° and butter and flour a normal sized loaf pan.  Then, pull out two bowls.  In the first bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour through salt), and set aside.  In the second bowl, combine the sugar and eggs, and, using an electric mixer, beat the egg/sugar mixture on high for about 10 minutes, or until thick, pale, and the mixture fails off the beaters in ribbons.  Then, on low, beat in the remaining ingredients until well-combined.  Lastly, fold in the dry ingredients.  Pour the batter into your loaf pan, and place in oven.  The bread should be done after 1-1 1/4 hours, when a toothpick (or, if you’re fancy, and have an actual cake-tester) inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.  Cool the bread in the loaf pan for two minutes, and then carefully remove, and let cool on a cooling rack for about 1 hour.   Then, enjoy!!!

*Adapted from this Epicurious recipe.  I added more bananas, used whole wheat flour, cut out a little sugar (my bananas were very sweet), substituted sour cream for crème fraîche, increased the cinnamon and vanilla, took out the walnuts, and cut the recipe in half.

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Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day…

14 Mar

This post could also be titled, “The Easiest and Best Bread Ever.” I’ve been making bread from this cookbook a few times a week for about three months now… and I can safely say the results are: 1) foolproof, as yes, I am not so very great at regular bread-making; 2) easy, as it really only takes minutes a day; and 3) delicious, as I haven’t actually *wanted* to buy any other bread, as this fulfills all cravings! I could go on, but really, you should just try it for yourself! The NY Times reviewed the book, and even provided the “master recipe” for you to try. So you can even test-drive the book, without having to buy anything. Which, actually, is how I stumbled across it. Afterwards, of course, I ran out to buy the book, and even bought a copy for my Mother. Who has also started baking a loaf or so every other day. What’s so fantastic about this book, besides how easy it makes it to bake bread at home every day, is that the authors, Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg are actively involved in promoting their book. They are on Twitter and Facebook, frequently answering any and all questions, and their website is the same, but it also has periodic articles on improvements, fixes, and new techniques. If something doesn’t work right for you, they are right there to help. They really back their method, and want it to work for you! I haven’t had an ounce of trouble, myself, but I have found a few of their articles super-helpful on helping me to perfect my technique!

Bran Enriched White Bread Dough

Bran Enriched White Bread Dough

Above is a picture of a batch of the Bran Enriched White Bread, during its initial rise. With Francois and Hertzberg’s method, you make a batch of this dough, let it rise initially for 2 or so hours, and then place it in the refrigerator. From the refrigerated dough, you can make 2-4 loaves of bread anytime over two weeks. Just remove the amount of dough you want, and let it rise for about 20 minutes while you preheat the oven, placing a pizza stone and broiler pan inside while pre-heating. Once risen, and the oven is preheated, place the dough on the stone and pour about a cup of water over the broiler pan, quickly closing the oven door to trap the steam inside. The steam is what makes the true, crispy, artisan crust on your bread. After about 30-40 minutes of baking, depending on the size of the loaf, your bread should look something like this!

The Finished Loaf

The Finished Loaf