12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 11: Spiced Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Banana bread is a favourite with me. Since I don’t have access to raspberries and blueberries and nice berries in general, banana bread is my standard fruit cake. The Joy Of Baking recipe was my go-to for a long time, until I was initiated into the world of brown butter via Melissa Clark’s blondie recipe.

This one comes from Joy The Baker, and it’s called brown butter banana bread. I like it because it doesn’t require creaming butter, just folding the wet and dry ingredients together. And the brown butter adds a lovely colour and a nutty taste.

I wanted to Christmas it up a little, so I added every possible spice I could- cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and a hint of cloves. I decided to pack it all in, with a healthy dose of walnuts. And I drizzled some caramel sauce over it too, because aren’t bananas and caramel a gorgeous match?

SPICED BANANA BREAD (Adapted from Joy The Baker.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk ( I used some yogurt thinned with water)
  • 1 1/4 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to to 175 C.
  • Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will start foaming and bubbling.
  • When the foaming and crackling subsides, the butter will begin to go brown.
  • When the butter browns and start to give off a nutty aroma, pull the pan off the heat and set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger powder and clove powder and walnuts.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the mashed bananas and whisk. Then whisk in the cooled brown butter.
  • Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and add the wet ingredients all at once.
  • Fold everything together till evenly combined and no streaks of flour remain in the batter.
  • Pour batter into greased loaf tin.
  • Bake at 175 C for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack and unmould.
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Want Cake? Make Banana Bread Instead!

I love banana bread. I think it is an awesome use for bananas. I mean, it’s nicer than eating them plain, right?

Technically, this is banana cake. It isn’t bread at all, since there is no yeast and no pulling of the dough. But because I have been referring to the above baked good as banana bread since age 5, and because my favourite bakery in my hometown makes something similar and also calls it banana bread, we shall refer to the above baked good as banana bread.

Sue me.

And you know the best part about making banana bread? THERE IS NEVER A DEARTH OF BANANAS WHERE I LIVE, because we get bananas year round. That’s right. Bananas are right up there with coconuts. They are everywhere. Their pervasive presence is there for all to see on the roadside, at supermarkets, in lunchboxes. Benefits of living in the tropics.

And I thought to myself: Why must I bust my a** trying to find lavender to make a lavender shortbread cookie, when I can buy bananas and make banana bread instead? (Well, looky there! A rhyme. I’m a poet and didn’t even know it.) Not that procuring lavender is bad…it’s just that banana bread is also a perfectly agreeable sweet bake.

I found an easy recipe for banana bread on Joy Of Baking. (I love her videos. No nonsense. Easy to follow. And always comes out right.) But since I believe in putting a little spin on stuff, I decided to use chocolate chips (I’m almost pathological when it comes to putting chocolate chips in cake and cookie batter,) and add a little semolina to the batter. I love the texture that semolina gives, and I thought it would be a nice contrast to the sweet mushiness of the bananas. (Is that even a word? Who cares. Still using it.)

Here are a few reasons to make this:

  • It’s yummy!
  • It’s easy!
  • You don’t need to whisk or use an electric mixer, only a spoon!
  • It’s yummy! (It is!)

CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD WITH SEMOLINA (Adapted from Joy Of Baking)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup roasted semolina (For this, all you need to do is take a pan, roast the rava with a teaspoon of ghee or clarified butter until a nice aroma envelopes your kitchen, and let cool. I usually roast batches of it and store for later use.)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (3/4 cup or more if you want. I used chocolate chips in this recipe so added less sugar.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup melted butter which has been cooled to room temperature
  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed to a smooth paste
  • 1/2 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips

METHOD

  •  Preheat oven to 180 C
  • First deal with your dry ingredients. Combine walnuts, flour, semolina, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon powder in a large bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the lightly beaten eggs, the melted butter, mashed bananas and vanilla extract.
  • Next, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine evenly. Don’t get excited and mix the batter too much; this will make the bread rubbery. (Or so I have been told.)
  • Stick it in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes at 180 C, or until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean.

I know this looks rather Dickensian, like little chunks of peasant bread, but believe me, it tastes great. I need to get a loaf pan to bake in.

Moist banana, the crunch of walnuts, a slight grainy texture from the semolina and of course, the goodness of chocolate chips! Time well spent in the kitchen.