Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Banana Bread (Whole Wheat)

We're in the middle of a heatwave and I've been loath to do any baking whatsoever. Sometimes you have no choice in the matter though. Hot summer days make for overripe bananas; I already have 6 of them in the freezer and another bunch are well on their way to becoming "ingredients". Time to bake some bread!

I wanted to try a different recipe since I'm still rather new at banana bread and don't have a favorite yet. Rather than go to the internet for a recipe, I thought I should utilize my little arsenal of cookbooks instead. I picked up the first book on the shelf and looked in the index... bingo! There's no photo (eek!) and no heartwarming story or imagery-rich description, just the recipe. It met all the requirements though: sounded tasty, looked easy, and we have all the ingredients on hand. What really caught my eye was that it called for whole-wheat flour (whole-wheat flour makes things healthy and takes away any residual guilt you might have after eating more than one serving). I went for it.

One word of warning if you own this book: 
The recipe is on a page-turn. Ingredients are listed on the bottom of 305, flip the page, the instructions are at the top of 306. I recommend that when making this recipe in future, employ the process known as mise-en-place. I kept flipping the page back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And that is nothing short of a recipe for disaster in my book. It is not unheard of for "someone" to start on one recipe and finish on quite another. A page turn mid-recipe only facilitates that scenario. Yes, I can be that absent-minded sometimes. Thankfully this wasn't one of those times.
  • Banana Bread (Whole Wheat) Pages 305 - 306 of The Silver Palate Cookbook, Anniversary Edition, 2007
My Notes: I thawed 3 of my frozen bananas on the counter and when the time came, picked the gooey things up in order to assess the best way to proceed. Though kind of gross and on the very brink of sliminess, I pulled one strip of the black peel halfway back and squeezed gently from the opposite end; the banana guts slipped right out. I guess it wasn't really that gross (it is just fruit after all). The dough was quite thick until the mashed bananas were added, and then it reached a typical batter consistency. Even without the mise-en-place, the batter went together easily and fast. It needed the full 60 minutes to bake. Released from the pan like a champ. Now, the smell of it is driving me crazy. It's that time between lunch and dinner when I typically feel "snacky". Probably not a good time to bake treats. Or maybe the perfect time. This is a dark, rich and delicious loaf of banana bread with a fine, dense (but not heavy) crumb. Familiar where it should be, yet subtly different everywhere else. It could use more walnuts (of course), but the banana goop didn't sink to the bottom, so who's complaining? If "needs more walnuts" is the only critique, then I'd say this recipe is an instant winner!

Mise en place: A French cooking term meaning to put everything in place. In the kitchen, it means that all ingredients for a recipe have been pre-measured; the recipe can be made without stopping. Seen on every t.v. cooking show for a reason: it's fast and efficient. A good habit to get into and a good excuse to buy all those cute little bowls! Pronounced meez on ploss.
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