>> Sunday, August 22, 2010
I'd put banana bread in the same category as my childhood friends - it's been in my life for as long as I can remember (and also the first thing I've baked in my life), and we've been through a lot together.
Good days, bad days, un-inspired days...the day when I resigned from my first full-time job (last week)...well, what else but banana bread!
Maybe what I love is the practicality of it. Like an all-purpose baked good that you can use in all situations. I mean, it really is the answer to some of life's toughest situations...like when you are:
a) so late for work and don't have time to make breakfast
b) incredibly stuck at work and the only thing left to do is to bribe colleagues with baked goods
c) in need to make your house smell truly domesticated...(there is a reason why banana bread is in Nigella's How to be a domestic goddess)
d) required to bake something at the last minute for people which says I-need-to-impress-but-I-don't-want-you-to-know-so-I-made-this-to-feign-indifference (don't under-estimate the power of the humble banana bread!)
Today, I introduce to you a fancier banana bread with a twist (of chocolate).
This is the first time I've used this recipe and the process is definitely more lengthy than my usual one (which I will post up another day!)
Chocolate-Banana Marble Bread
Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking
Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking
Note: The recipe calls for cake flour instead of the usual all purpose flour. You can make your own cake flour: for every cup of cake-flour required by the recipe, take a cup of all purpose flour - remove 2 tablespoons of it and replace it with 2 tbsp of cornflour. Then sift 5-6 times.
- 2 large or 3 medium very ripe bananas, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (7 ounces) sifted cake flour (see note above)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) unsifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounce) boiling water, plus more if needed
- 1 1/2 sticks (six ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter or high-heat canola-oil spray and line it with a piece of parchment paper that extends 1 inch beyond the long edge of both sides of the pan. Peel the bananas and place them in the bowl of the food processor.
Process to a smooth puree, or mash them in a bowl using a fork. Measure 1 cup of the puree and transfer it to a medium bowl, discarding the rest of the puree or saving it for another use. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and whisk just until blended. Set aside.
Use a fine-mesh strainer to sift the cake flour, baking soda, and baking powder together into a medium bowl. Whisk to blend well. Set aside. Place the cocoa powder in the small bowl. Pour the boiling water over the coca and stir until it forms a smooth paste — it should run thickly off the spoon. If it is too thick, add another tablespoon of boiling water and stir again. Set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until the butter is very light, almost white in color, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add the eggs, 1 tablespoon at a time, completely blending in each addition before adding the next. About halfway through the eggs, turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with the spatula, then continue adding the rest of the eggs. Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand.
Transfer half of the batter to the second medium bowl. Add the cocoa paste and, using the rubber spatula, gently but thoroughly blend it into the batter.
Drop alternating spoonfuls of dark and light batters into the prepared pan, but marbleize by using a spoon to gently turn the batter over in 3 places down the length of the pan.
Bake the banana bread for 55 to 65 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. When cool, remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and cut slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife.
While this banana bread is quite good (very soft and refined), I don't really think it is all that necessary to spend so much time on a banana bread (unless you do have the time!). Normally making banana bread is a one bowl task for me, but with this recipe be prepared to do a little bit more washing up ;)