Wednesday, July 3, 2013

that's bananas!

it's been a busy few weeks since abby's arrival, so my recent baking activity has been focused on simple and comforting (and freezeable). given that criteria, what could be more appropriate than banana bread? conveniently, i had a few spotty bananas just asking to be baked into something delicious ;)

i tried out two new recipes: joy the baker's brown butter banana strawberry bread and miette's banana bread with nutty streusel. i decided to omit the strawberries in jtb's recipe since the berry selection has been rather subpar; that might have been a mistake... the recipe only called for half a cup of chopped strawberries but leaving them out made the bread a little on the dry side. i probably should have compensated with extra yogurt or more bananas ::sigh:: dryness aside, the brown butter-banana flavor was nice. i'll have to try this one again but make it properly--even if i have to use subpar strawberries. now, on to miette's banana bread, the true star of this post.

this is the first recipe i've done from the miette cookbook. it's such a beautiful book and perfectly mirrors the aesthetic of the bakery itself. how many other cookbooks have cute scalloped edges? given the excellent results i am definitely inspired to try out more.

the streusel topping adds a nice sweetness, making this more like a banana coffee cake than your standard nutty banana bread. for whatever reason, i'm usually not great at making streusel--it'll either come out too sandy and fall off or too chunky and melt into a sort of crust--but this streusel had the exact crumb-like texture i've been aiming for. the recipe makes a lot of topping, and even with a generous sprinkling i ended up with some leftovers--might consider halving the recipe next time. as for the cake/bread, i made it into one regular-sized loaf and three mini loaves. wrapped up the large loaf for jade & kavin (freezer ready) and shared the minis with sean over the course of the week. deeelicious.
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:: banana bread with nutty streusel :: 

(recipe from miette)
makes 2 loaves.

nutty streusel: 
1/2 cup (2oz) pecan pieces 
1/4 cup (2oz) firmly packed light brown sugar 
1/3 cup (1 1/2oz) all purpose flour 
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter 
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

banana bread: 
2 1/4 cups (11oz) all purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2oz) sugar 
2 large eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
4 medium soft, but not black, bananas (about a pound), peeled and roughly mashed 
1/2 cup (2oz) pecan pieces

1. liberally butter four 5-by-3-inch or two 8-by-4 inch loaf pans and dust with sifted flour. tap out the excess flour. 
2. preheat the oven to 350F. 
3. to make the streusel: in a food processor, add the pecans, sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt and pulse until coarsely combined. transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 5 days.
4. to make the banana bread: sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside. 
5. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the sugar, eggs, and vanilla on medium speed until well combined and lightened in color, 4 to 5 minutes. reduce the speed to low and drizzel in the oil, whisking until combined. add the banana mash and whisk just until combined. add the dry ingredients and pecans to the batter in three additions, whisking just to combine after each addition. do not overmix.
6. divide the batter between the prepared pans. sprinkle the tops with the streusel, dividing it evenly. (you may not need all of the streusel if making the smaller loaves.) bake until the breads have risen nicely and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes for the small loaves and 45 to 50 minutes for the larger loaves. transfer to wire racks and let cool in the pans for 20 minutes. run an offset spatula around the edges of the pans, then invert the cakes onto the racks and let cool for about 20 minutes longer. serve right away, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve, up to 3 days. to freeze, wrap tightly in a second layer of plastic and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. serve at room temperature.

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