I end up buying a lot of bananas (organic and fairly traded if I could, please) this time of year, since the citrus season is waning and it’ll be quite some time before locally grown fruits will be available. With the overripe bananas, I could make banana quick bread and banana muffins to my heart’s content, and it would take quite a while to completely content my heart when it comes to these delicious things, but something a bit different is always welcome nonetheless.
Okay so a yeasted bread with bananas in it is not as different as some of the more unique culinary uses of bananas one could find out there, but I quite like this one. It’s like a sandwich bread in texture with the hint of the flavor of classic banana quick bread. I also add a generous helping of walnuts to the dough, which I think gives the otherwise soft and moist bread a bit of needed structure and crunch.
I make this bread pretty much the same way as I make any other yeast bread. I mix up a “mini starter” with the liquid ingredients, the yeast and some of the flour. I let that stand for a while, which I think serves to improve the action of the yeast as well as the flavor of the bread. I then knead in the rest of the flour using the dough hook for my Kitchen Aid mixer.
I have found that this bread rises best when the dough is moister and stickier than I usually will tolerate in a bread dough. You can knead in more flour to make a dough that is a little easier (and less messy) to handle, which is what I did this time I made it, but it takes much longer to rise to its required shape and size.
I mostly just eat this bread with a swipe of butter, or I toast it before buttering it, but I think if you like peanut butter and banana, you could use it to support a peanut butter sandwich. It’s also fabulous when used to make French toast, something I just confirmed this morning. I thought of taking a photo, but I was too busy eating and enjoying it. An occupational hazard, I guess.
Banana Walnut Yeast Bread
I recommend allowing the dough to remain a bit sticky for this bread. It may be more difficult and messier to handle, but the loaf should rise better than when the dough is stiffer.
1/3 cup milk warmed to about 100 F
3 tablespoons sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 envelope)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 medium very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
3 cups bread flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Combine warm milk, butter, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer (or another large bowl if mixing by hand. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.
2. Mix in the butter, egg and banana using the paddle attachment for the mixer (or a spoon or hand-held mixer). Mix in 2 cups of the bread flour to make a thick batter. Cover the bowl with a towel and let stand about 30 minutes.
3. Add the salt and cinnamon to the foamy batter. Using the dough hook for the mixer gradually knead in as much of the remaining cup of bread flour as needed to make a smooth, stretchy, but still somewhat sticky dough. Knead in the walnuts.
4. Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Shape the sticky dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Spray the dough ball with the cooking spray. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the dough. Cover the whole bowl with a towel. Let stand until roughly double in size, 1-1 ½ hours.
5. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray an 8 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Re-shape the dough into a loaf and place it in the prepared pan. Cover with a towel and let rise until double in size, at least 1 hour, possibly longer.
6. When the loaf has completely risen, bake at 375 F for 35 minutes. The crust should be dark brown. Remove from the pan and cool on a cooling rack.
Makes a 1 ½ pound loaf.
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