Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blueberry Spice Banana Bread

If there is one food that you could never have a good reason to throw out, it would be banana.

Their beauty lies in their applicability and affordability.

Their purpose varies depending on their stage of ripeness and cartoon characters seem to slip on the peel often. Has this ever really happened in real life?

     Very green, they can be sliced, battered and fried.

     When turned yellow, they are perfect to eat fresh.

     All speckled and fragrant, they get mashed into banana bread batter.

     When very soft and dark, they go to smoothieland.

I take trips to banana bread world quite often. It’s a breakfast thing – it’s better than toast…

Fudgy Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread will change banana bread as you know it.

Brown Butter Banana Bread is underestimated and over-sophisticated.

The Best Classic Banana Bread showcases the true essence of banana – perfect anytime.

Bananas are similar to most fruit in that they are picked green and then ripen off the tree. They tell you when they are ready to eat through a change in appearance.

During banana ripening, starch transforms into sugar thanks to a few important enzymes. This reaction happens rather quickly, which is why we often have many overripe bananas left over. They ripen especially fast in warmer temperatures (heat accelerates these enzymatic reactions), so to preserve the life of your fruit you can actually store them in the refrigerator. This may cause the peel to brown, but the flesh will still be delicious – it will just ripen more slowly.

Bananas perfect for bread-making are ripe but not mushy-ripe. This is the stage where they are sweet but still have a reasonable starch content good for contributing structure to a loaf. This recipe uses oil instead of butter for a super moist crumb and a clean banana flavour. Butter is usually better, but oil stands a chance in loaf recipes (as difficult as it is for me to admit).

May a banana never go to waste.


Blueberry Spice Banana Bread
Makes 8-10 servings

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium bananas or 250 g of flesh)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup pure sunflower oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup semi-dried blueberries

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9x5-inch rectangular loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on opposite ends along the length and lightly butter exposed sides.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.

In a separate medium bowl, combine mashed banana, yogurt, oil and vanilla extract and whisk together until evenly blended. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated and smooth. Stir in blueberries and then pour this whole mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently fold the ingredients together until combined and there are no large pockets of flour in the batter. Be careful not to over-mix.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until evenly browned and slightly cracked at the surface, about 45-55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. Serve with cream cheese and honey, if you are feeling awesome.

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