Banana Walnut Bread

The only banana walnut bread recipe you’ll need (unless you’re vegan).

Banana Walnut Bread

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 8 oz (1 cup) of butter
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups overripe bananas (if frozen, thawed)
  • 1.5 cups toasted walnuts
  • tin foil

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Lay walnuts flat on a sheet pan and toast in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. They shouldn’t begin to brown in this time but they will take on a toasted flavor once cooled. I used always go for almonds as an at-work snack, but I must admit I’m totally falling for these toasted walnuts, as in, I look forward to getting to work so I can eat them.  So don’t not toast them.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine or sift the ingredients together.

3. Put the butter and sugar, both white and brown, in the bottom of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. If you don’t have an electric mixer, the same technique can be accomplished with a bowl, a spatula, and a lot of willpower, but make it easy on yourself by letting the butter thaw to room temperature first. Mix until the two combine and begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl (as the butter will tend to cling) between eggs.

5. Add sour cream and vanilla to wet ingredients and mix until smooth.

5. Ok let’s get bananas. I usually freeze my brownish bananas once they are less than desirable and let them accumulate for an occasion like this, but you can also use unripe bananas without freezing them first. If you are working with frozen bananas, microwave them or leave them out to thaw them before use. Why, you might ask? Adding a frozen banana will lower the butter’s temperature (which we already spent a few minutes bringing to room temperature in all that mixing) and mess up that smooth texture we have going on. Mash the bananas with a fork and add them to the batter until incorporated.

^ Questionable…

Much better

6. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir with a spatula (making sure to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl) until about half of the flour streaks disappear. Add the toasted walnuts and continue mixing for a few more turns.

7. Divide the batter evenly between greased loaf pans (I spread butter all over the inside then sprinkle a little flour). If you prefer a crispier crust, sprinkle some sugar on top of the batter. Bake for 55-70 minutes on the bottom rack of your oven or until a toothpick is inserted in the middle and comes out clean. Check the loaf around 30 minutes in and if the crust is already a deep brown, cover it with tin foil to prevent burning the edges. Cool at least 20 minutes before slicing, unless you don’t mind if it falls apart a bit.

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Cinnamon Raisin Babka Loaf


A yeast-risen, not-too-sweet, breakfast specialty! The moist cinnamon raisin swirls make this bread look more difficult than it really is – bake a babka loaf and impress someone today.

*Recipe adapted from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri.

Cinnamon Raisin Babka Loaf

  • 2 Tbs heavy cream
  • 1 cup warm tap water
  • 5 tsp (2 packets) dry active yeast
  • 8 Tbs unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 large egg yolks (save 3 whites for cinnamon raisin filling)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs oil (olive or vegetable)

Cinnamon Raisin Filling

  • 1.5 cups raisins
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 Tbs cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)

Preparation:

1. Start by measuring all of the ingredients in separate containers so that they are at-the-ready and can be incorporated into the mixer efficiently. Yeast doughs can be extremely easy to work with provided the dough does not have time to begin rising while you measure.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat or in the microwave (just be careful not to scorch it). Let the butter congeal in the pan.

3. Add yeast to bottom of an electric mixer fixed with the paddle attachment. Measure 1 cup of warm tap water from your faucet (it should not be steaming or too hot to touch) and pour it over the yeast. Mix with a spoon to dissolve any large lumps. Make sure the yeast is beginning to activate (becoming cloudy, bubbly) before you add any more ingredients.

4. Add melted butter, sugar, salt, egg yolks,  and vanilla. Stir to combine. It should look unappealing, like this:

5. Add flour, 1/2 a cup at a time, beating on medium speed to incorporate after each addition.

Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides before each addition of flour. When all the flour has been added, beat the dough on high speed for 2 minutes. Allow the dough to rest in the mixer for 10 minutes before beating it again on medium speed for 2 additional minutes. These steps should result in a clean looking dough, like this:

6. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl to coat with oil to prevent sticking. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

(man hands)

7. As the dough rises, prepare the filling by whipping the three egg whites in the mixer with the beater attachment. Add the sugar slowly to the eggs as they are whipping.

Mix on high speed until the whites form stiff peaks, about 5-8 minutes. Also, gather raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and any nuts you wish to use.

8. After an hour, the dough has magically risen!

Cut the risen dough in half and turn it out on a well floured surface. Gather a rolling pin (or wine bottle), two loaf pans and begin rolling out the dough, using the length of one of the loaf pans as a general guide.

9. Once dough reaches about 3/4 inch thickness, smooth half of beaten egg whites carefully over the dough.

Sprinkle a little over half a cup of the raisins onto the egg whites.

Then sprinkle generously with cinnamon and a little bit of nutmeg (no need to measure really, just go with your taste buds on this one).

Form the dough by  starting with the side closest to you and slowly rolling it upwards, careful not to press down and displace the filling.

End with the seam on the bottom so the dough stays rolled while you grease and flour each of your loaf pans. Carefully lift roll into pan and repeat procedure with the other half of the dough.

10. Cover the dough with a towel and let it rise until doubled in size, 1 – 2 hours depending on the temperature of the room.

11. Bake babkas at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until well risen and a deep golden brown color on the crust. Cool loaves in the pans for at least 30 minutes before turning them out of the pan (to avoid collapse).

Slice with a serrated knife if enjoying right away or seal loaf in plastic wrap to be stored in the freezer for later use (defrost for 30 minutes and reheat at 350 for about 10 minutes).

 Personally, I couldn’t wait to try it. So I ate this slice while freshly baked.

And another for dessert – smothered in apple pecan honey butter.

And because it isn’t overly sweet, this bread might make a mighty fine sandwich. If you’re brave enough to try it, let me know how it goes.