A Recipe for the Forgotten Bananas
“Breakfast, he said and nudged the door open with the edge of the linen-covered tray. He pushed the door closed with his knee. Want it there? He asked and gestured toward the gray room with his chin. No, I’ll have it right here. And I want a boiled egg and a piece of cinnamon toast.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
I started making this bread with the forgotten bananas. My excuse was to make fresh bread for breakfast that included whole grain flour. But when this loaf is barely cool enough to slide from the hot pan thick slices have been cut and devoured, usually toasted and then slathered with both butter and honey. Leaving barely half a loaf for my breakfast plans. What’s left of the Yeasted Banana Nut Bread gets toasted for our for breakfast. To jump start our day we add a scoop of almond butter for protein. But if my vision of cream cheese ever so slightly melting on the warm toast sounds better, give it a try. If that’s not enough enticement, I’ve discovered that apricot jam is another fine option.
The Yeasted Banana Nut Bread is not as sweet as traditional Banana Bread. Because sweet is not the main attraction the banana flavor holds a place of prominence in this recipe. Brown sugar’s carmel flavor pairs smoothly with the ripe bananas, while whole wheat flour, pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg are a mingle of subtle flavors.
Easy is making this entire recipe in the bowl of a stand mixer. There is no need to dissolve the yeast in warm water or shape the loaf of bread by hand. All the flour goes in the recipe, none is needed for dusting counters or work surfaces. I do take a couple of extra steps to maximize flavor but it’s a personal choice. If there is time I recommend making brown butter and toasting the pecans. Recommend, but not at all necessary for a stellar loaf of bread. There is no reason to toss the forgotten bananas, just make bread.
|2/3C||pecans, plus more for the top of the bread|
|1C||milk, any kind|
|1pkg/2-1/4t||active dry yeast|
|1-3/4t||fine grain sea salt|
|1-1/2C||white whole wheat flour|
- Prepare the browned butter by melting the butter in a saucepan or skillet with a light colored or shiny interior on medium heat. At first the butter may sputter for a bit as the milk solids cook. Gently swirl the pan until the milk solids are a warm toasty brown at the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Heat the oven to 350°. Spread 2/3 cup pecans across the surface of a sheet pan and toast for 8-10 minutes until they are fragrant and turn toasty brown. Cool and then chop.
- Butter a large mixing bowl and 9”x5” loaf pan, set aside. Butter the rim of the loaf pan too.
- Fit the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and add the peeled bananas. Start on low speed to break up the bananas, increase speed to medium and mix until the bananas are a puree with no large lumps. Add the egg and mix until combined. Then add the brown butter (add all the browned bits), milk, brown sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix to combine making sure the spices are distributed throughout the batter.
- Remove the paddle attachment and bowl from the stand mixer. Add both flours to the bowl and return the bowl to the stand mixer. Attach the dough hook. Mix all the ingredients together, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Then add the the pecans and mix the dough on medium speed for five minutes until the dough is sticky and elastic. The dough should remain sticky and barely cling to the outer edges of the mixing bowl. If the dough is too wet and remains flat across the bottom of the bowl add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, at the sides of the bowl.
- Scrape the dough into the buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let proof for one to one and a half hours until puffy and almost doubled in size. Deflate the dough while still in the bowl by using a flexible bench scraper or large rubber scraper. Scrape the dough down from the outside edges of the bowl toward the center of the bowl, turning the bowl as part of the process, making sure all the dough has been deflated. Then scrape the dough into the buttered loaf pan. Smooth out the dough so that the loaf is of even thickness. Heat the oven to 350° while the dough proofs. Let proof for thirty to forty-five minutes. When ready to bake, the dough will peak above the rim of the 9”x5” loaf pan.
- Prepare an egg wash by mixing together the egg white and a tablespoon of water. Gently brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash. Arrange pecan halves across the top of the loaf. Then brush the pecans with egg white, to help adhere them to the loaf of bread. Bake the bread for twenty-five to thirty minutes. When done, the Yeasted Banana Bread with Toasted Pecans will have a golden brown top crust, sound hollow when tapped and the internal temperature of the bread will be 200°. Let cool ten minutes and if needed loosen the edges of the loaf from the top of the pan with a table knife or small off-set spatula. Turn out on a cooling rack to finish cooling. For perfect, almost crumb free slices wait until the bread has cooled completely to slice.
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