Hi All! I’m already on vacation mode, but wanted to put out this post before I leave for my 30th High School Reunion tomorrow! Excited to reconnect with high school buddies, some of whom I haven’t seen for 30 years! Eager to compare bald spots and pot bellies! Haha!
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Today’s post is making banana bread as a yeast bread! Because why not? There is such a thing as quick bread fatigue, right?
Only issue was that I didn’t have overly ripe bananas. But then I found this solution from Kitchn.
I also found this other little trick, this time from Cooks Illustrated, where you basically take ripe bananas and microwave them to extract the fluid from them, and then reduce it in a saucepan for even more concentrated banana flavor! Yowza! I had to try that!
I then basically took a banana yeast recipe (from Taste of Home), but decided to decrease the rest of the non-banana ingredients as much as possible, while still maintaining the same number of bananas. While this made for a very sticky and loose dough, in the end I think it still worked. It’s almost like a focaccia, but there are some differences that keep me from calling it that.
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Feel free to slather whatever you want on it, or even eat it plain. The candied nuts and brushing of the honey/egg yolk mixture just before baking creates only a slightly sweet boost, and a nice crust. I imagine that if you don’t finish it all, you can also use it to make French toast. My thought is that you get some banana liqueur and some dark rum, make like bananas foster with some banana slices sautéed with butter, sugar, some of the liqueur, etc. What a breakfast that would be! Hopefully when I get back from my trip there’ll still be some left, because now I sort of want to try that!
Banana Nut Yeast Bread
3 large ripe bananas (or roast at 300 degrees F 20-30 minutes)
1/2 cup milk, lukewarm, about 110 degrees F.
2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter. room temperature, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional 1-2 cups, as needed
1 cup bread flour
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup walnuts, chopped (or other nut of choice)
1 egg white
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon water
First things first. If bananas are not super ripe, bake on a foil lined baking sheet at 300 degrees F. for about 20-30 minutes, until peels are black. Peel and cool slightly. If bananas are already ripe enough, skip this and go on to the next step.
Peel the bananas and place on a microwave-safe plate or other container with a high lid and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a microwave on high for about 5 minutes. Three large bananas with yield about a 1/2-3/4 cup amount of fluid.
Using a sieve, strain the bananas by pressing down with a spatula, to extract as much fluid from the bananas, to a saucepan. Reserve the banana pulp and set aside for later. Simmer the fluid on medium heat in saucepan, until liquid is reduced to about half the amount. Set aside to cool to lukewarm, about 110 degrees F.
When reduced banana fluid has cooled, add lukewarm milk, 1 Tablespoon sugar, and make sure it is not too cold for the yeast by using the microwave to heat up to about 110 degrees F, if needed. Add yeast and let sit undisturbed for about 5-10 minutes until frothy.
Into a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the first 1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, all the bread flour and the salt, whisk to evenly distribute the salt, followed by adding the two beaten eggs, the yeast/milk/banana juice mixture, and turn on to medium. Add reserved banana pulp and the unsalted butter.
Dough will be very wet and sticky. Turn off the mixer periodically and using a rubber spatula, try to scrape the sides and turn the forming dough over to incorporate all the flour and slowly adding about 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of flour. Reserve the last 1/2 cup for later. Try to resist adding all the flour, but if it’s just too sticky, add a little more flour to make it easier to handle. Bring mixer back on medium and let dough knead for about 5 minutes. Dough will still be sticking to sides of mixer bowl.
With a rubber spatula or plastic dough scraper, remove dough unto a floured surface and using the remaining flour, try to knead into a ball with a smoother surface. Dough will still be slightly wet and very sticky. As best you can, form into a ball. It helps to dust hands with dough as well as use the scraper or spatula.
Transfer into a stainless steel bowl that has been greased with vegetable oil. Turn once to coat entire surface of dough ball and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Leave for about 45 minutes until doubled, in an area of your kitchen without a draft.
If using, make the candied walnuts by adding an egg white to the chopped walnuts in a bowl, stirring and then adding roughly a 1/4 cup of brown sugar or more to taste, the spreading it out on a foiled or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and baking on 375 degrees F, for about 8-10 minutes, being careful not to burn walnuts. When sufficiently toasted, remove and set aside.
When dough has doubled, add the nuts and knead to incorporate evenly throughout dough. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a lightly greased piece of parchment paper.
Form the dough into an oval, or make two small round loaves, if desired. Make slits horizontally or diagonally on the top surface of the loaf or loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit for about 30-45 minutes for a second rise.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Before baking, using a pastry brush, brush the entire top surface with a mixture made up of one egg yolk, 1 Tablespoon honey, and a teaspoon of water.
Bake in center of oven for about 30 minutes. Crust will be sufficiently browned. If there are still white areas, let bake more, but watch carefully to avoid overbaking.
Let cool on parchment paper over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
This is a huge loaf and is best served while still warm, with butter and/or honey, or other preferred spreads.