Monday, April 02, 2012

Recipe: Flour's Famous Banana Bread

I am a big fan of banana bread; banana cake as well but not so much as a thick, sweet, chewy banana bread. I am such a big fan that I swear one of the reasons I miss travelling to Australia is they were such great purveyors of banana bread. It was almost like a national dessert,(I know, I know, pavlova, melting moments and baklava and all these other adopted things are considered the national desserts but the truly Australian one must be banana bread).

I'm somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to banana bread, it has to have the right texture, more dense and sticky than cake, but sweeter and more cake-like than bread. I've tried all kinds of recipes and some disappointingly turned out more like cake and served better in wedges than slices. I've tried recipes with oil and with butter, with sour cream and with buttermilk (I've tried some without either but those tend to produce a very flat tasting cake-like texture), with walnuts, chocolates, cinnamon and nutmeg.

I can now truly say that I think I've found the best and my favourite banana bread recipe. Trust me, that's no small praise. Strangely, the providence of this recipe is nowhere near Australia, it comes from Chef Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery in Boston. Even more oddly, despite having quite a bit of time in Boston, I'd never heard of this bakery and was introduced to it's cookbook by a friend in Singapore who'd bought it at the Kinokuniya sale.

When I tasted the bread, I was delighted by it's rich texture and flavour. It had just the right mix of sourness and sweetness, cinnamon and nuttiness from the walnuts. It was also easy and quick to make and held it's shape well when baked, sliced and even frozen. I've since made the cake thrice and tweaked the recipe ever so slightly.

There were two very similar versions of the recipe, one from the cookbook and one via Food Network, so I used the cookbook recipe as a default. Here is the recipe, transposed with metric weights for convenience. The recipe doubles and triples easily, if you want to bake a sheet cake. I made one for my mum's qigong group which she served while warm, I was sure there would be leftovers from a 14x14 inch cake but it was all gone!

Flour's Famous Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups/ 210g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsps/ 230g castor sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup/360 grams or roughly 5 over-ripe bananas, half mashed and half sliced
2 tbsp sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup/75 grams walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Set the oven temperature to 350 degrees or 170 degrees C.
2. Line the bottom and sides of a 9x5 inch loaf pan, or a 6x6 inch square pan with parchment paper.
3. Sift together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt
4. Beat the sugar and eggs with the whisk attachment on an egg beater until light and fluffy. Make sure the mixture is light in colour and truly thick and fluffy; it should take at least 15 minutes.
5. Drizzle in the oil; add it in a small steady stream so that it is gradually absorbed, do not add it all at once
6. Add mash bananas, sour cream and vanilla.
7. Fold in the dry ingredients and walnuts. For a better texture, try to fold in the flour rather than mixing it into the egg beater. If using the egg beater, do not overmix as the flour will work into a stiff gluten, which undermines the softness of the bread.
8. Pour into the lined tin, smooth the top and bake for about 1 hour. Check after 45 minutes. I find that it usually takes an hour for my oven, up to 1.5 hours if I double the recipe.
10. Keep warm at 100 C before serving.


Kerri said...

Sounds yummy! Can I find t when do you put in the sliced bananas into the mix?

floberita said...

that looks delicious! i love banana cake as all the banana breads i've tried in the past are dry and unexciting. but yours looks fabulous :)