Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Tutor: Featuring Girlichef

Baked Banana Bread
Banana Bread


Every Tuesday I choose a different friend to be my tutor for a day: I select one of their original recipes, I make the recipe following my friend's instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I scarf down as much as my belt-line will permit - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Learn More



Today's Tuesday Tutor: girlichef
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Recipe: Banana Bread

My tutor today is Heather from girlichef, a favorite blog I recently discovered thanks to Heather's wonderful Bake Your Own Bread (BYOB) series, where each month the challenge is to bake your own bread and share it with the group. But girlichef isn't just about baking (you'll find plenty of baked goodies), or about Mexican cuisine (you'll find lots of authentic dishes) or about popsicles (plenty of those too!) - rather, girlichef is a marvelously creative mix of all of those things. And a lot more.

Heather never ceases to surprise me and I'm always learning something. Sometimes it's about food or ingredients, sometimes about new cookbooks, sometimes about new novels. The more I visit girlichef, the stronger the addiction. So when I discovered Heather's family heritage banana bread recipe while browsing through the extensive girlichef archive, I knew she would have something to teach me. And I was right. Get out a fork - we're about to make banana bread!

About the Author
  1. "My first solid food was frijoles refritos (refried beans). It's a running joke in my family that those beans stemmed my passion for Mexican cuisine. Yet, I think it's true."
  2. "My 'last meal' choice would be a Filet Mignon (medium) with hand-cut fries and a big ol' pitcher of Bearnaise sauce to use on both."
  3. "I can quote (the movie) Dazed and Confused from beginning to end. Also Goonies. And Girls Just Want to Have Fun. And The Notebook. YIKES!"
  4. "I love reading culinary mysteries. Sure, they might be fun and a bit "fluffy", but I LOVE them. I'm a closet private eye."
  5. "I can relate almost anything to food...bring any experience right back to the kitchen."
Photo courtesy of girlichef



How to Make: Banana Bread
Original recipe courtesy of girlichef

Blue Cornflower Bread Pan
This banana bread involves three essential pieces of kitchen equipment: a fork, a bowl and a
loaf pan. And it all starts with preparing the loaf pan. No greasing, no flouring, and no
buttering required. I used my Corning Ware Blue Cornflower loaf pan, but this pan did
increase the bake time by about 10 minutes. Speaking of baking, preheat your oven to 325F



Bread Pan Lined with Foil
Fit the loaf pan with aluminum foil, shiny-side up. I used a piece of extra-wide foil about
3x the width of the loaf pan so that there would be plenty of overhang on both sides. The good
news about the foil lining is that it will later be used as the wrapping for the baked loaf.

Butter and Sugar in Pyrex Cinderella Bowl
Next you will need your fork and a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add your sugar and butter.
For this step, it's very important that your butter is room temperature so that it will be easy
for you to cream with the fork

Cream Butter and Sugar with Fork
Mash the butter and sugar together with the fork, moving in quick, strong strokes

Butter Starting to Cream
Keep turning the bowl and whipping with the fork...

Butter Lightening and Gaining Volume
...the butter will slowly start to change in color, lightening and becoming fluffier...

Butter Light and Fluffy
...until you arrive at light and fluffy butter and sugar. This whole process takes about 5 minutes
of constant work with the fork, while turing the bowl with your other hand.

Adding Baking Soda to Buttermilk or Sour Milk
Next comes the baking soda and milk - Heather's family recipe calls for sour milk. However,
I did not have sour milk and seems like it's nearly impossible to get modern high-temp
pasteurized milk to turn sour, even at room temperature, so I used a Tablespoon of buttermilk
instead of the sour milk. I suspect the sour milk is important due to the acidity also present
in buttermilk, which is why I felt safe making this substitution. Add your baking soda to
the milk (sour or buttermilk)

Mixing Buttermilk and Baking Soda
Whisk to combine the milk and buttermilk. The mixture may produce small bubbles during
when mixed which is normal as the acid from the milk has activated the baking soda

Adding Buttermilk/Baking Soda to Butter/Sugar
Add the baking soda/milk to the creamed butter and stir together thoroughly

Adding Eggs
Add two large eggs. It's again important that these eggs be room temperature to prevent the
cold eggs from causing the butter to clump. If your eggs are cold, before cracking, soak them
in a bowl of hot water for 3 minutes first

Eggs Mixed into Creamed Butter
Beat in the eggs with the fork until the batter is well combined.

Flour in Sifter
Next comes the unbleached, all purpose flour. It really helps if you have a sifter as you won't
need to dirty yet another bowl =)

Flour Sifted into Batter
Sift in the flour and add a pinch of salt (I used kosher salt, about 1/4 teaspoon)

1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Heather's family recipe doesn't add the mix-ins until the very end, but since sometimes mix-
ins end up falling to the bottom of the batter during baking, I decided to add mine at this
stage to ensure the mix-ins were coated in flour. I chose to use semi-sweet chocolate chips,
but you could pick your favorite mix-in instead.

Chocolate Chips added with Flour
Tip in the mix-ins...

Batter Mixed Together with Fork
...then mix with the fork to combine. The batter will be thick and sticky.

Bananas Wrapped in Black Bag
Now the most important part - bananas! Why is there a picture of a black bag? Because the
ripest bananas I could find locally were a pale shade of yellow and Heather's recipe calls for
brown ripened bananas. Since most bananas are sprayed with a ripening chemical (ewww),
if you store the bananas in a black plastic bag, they will ripen faster

Ripened Bananas
Within two days, you will have ripe bananas. Mine didn't quite reach the brown stage, but
it doesn't seem to have dramatically affected the final flavor or texture of the bread.

Chunked Bananas Added to Bowl
Chunk the bananas and add them to a flat-bottomed bowl or dish for mashing. I found that
my French White Corning Ware soufflé dish worked well for this.

Mashing Bananas in Flat Bottomed Bowl
Mash the bananas with a fork (or you can be a rebel and use a potato masher which worked
quite well and was quite painless). This is where the flat-bottom of the dish helps to prevent
the bananas from escaping the mash-action.

Mashed Bananas in Flat Bottomed Bowl
You will arrive at a lovely puree. If you like chunks of banana in your bread, don't smash
quite as vigorously as I did

Batter Added to Mashed Bananas
Add the smashed bananas to your batter (or the batter to the smashed bananas in my case)
and fold everything together.

Folding Together Bananas and Batter
Don't go crazy with mixing or you will toughen-up the final baked bread.

Batter Added to Lined Bread Pan
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top. You're ready to bake.

Baked Banana Bread Overhead
You will need to bake the bread until it has puffed up and a toothpick comes out clean. The
bake-time will vary based on the material of the loaf pan you are using and the accuracy of
your oven. Heather recommends 50-60 minutes and I found that using the Corning Ware
pan increased my bake time to 70 minutes. Once the bread is baked through, let rest at room
temperature for at least 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Banana Bread Unwrapped
You should now be able to easily lift out the bread using the edges of the foil lining.

Slice of Banana Bread
Now is the time to eat this delightful bread. Seriously, start carving off slices and passing them
out to your family and friends. It doesn't get any better...

Bite of Banana Bread
The melted chocolate...the warm banana scent, the moist bread...mmmm...
One slice will NEVER due!


Thoughts while scarfing...
  • Eat this bread 10 minutes after it's finished baking. It's amazingly moist, every bite is a fragrant comfort, and something about the warmth from the oven makes everything taste better. Yes, you can save the loaf for another day, but it's just not the same. It's a little dryer, it's a little heavier, it's a little less comforting.
     
  • Sometimes a recipe is so perfect, you don't even want to meddle the tiniest bit with it or risk upsetting the entire careful balance of flavors and textures. Especially when baking. This banana bread is one of these recipes and it's obvious why Heather's mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all passed this recipe down from one generation to the next. It's truly a wonderful banana bread.
     
  • I love the melted chocolate chips in this bread, but if you're a nut fan, walnuts would also be delicious. But I don't recommend exceeding Heather's 1/2 cup limit because this bread doesn't require a slew of mix-ins and you really don't want to distract from the simple comfort of the bread itself.
     
  • Sometimes machines help. Sometimes the old-fashioned tools are the best. And since this is an heirloom recipe, I recommend sticking with the simple fork and saving your stand mixer for another day. Besides, it only takes about 5 minutes to cream the butter and sugar with the fork - and it will help you work up a little appetite!

4 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for featuring me today, JW...I feel honored! I love your tutorial and your tips and wish I could reach in a grab a slice of banana bread. Good thing I have a couple of bananas getting extra brown on the counter right now! ;)

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    Replies
    1. It was awesome having you, Heather - and I'm so happy over how the bread came out. Banana bread done wrong can be rubbery and just awful, but this was exactly what I hoped for. Thank you so much...

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  2. Nice tutorial, anything from Heather is golden :)I can smell the bread right now (wish)..

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  3. I am a huge Heather fan and that bread look fantastic! I love the recipes that have been around for generations--you know it will be delicious and there's something so great about knowing that it was great before ingredients and kitchen tools got fancy.

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