banana bread, but not that kind of banana bread

So here’s the situation: I had an unexpected two days off of work due to Tropical Storm Fay and a few overripe bananas sitting atop my refrigerator. Normally, overripe bananas get turned into banana “bread.” I chose quotations there because it’s really more like a cake even though it is technically a quick-bread. Sweet, sometimes spiced, sometimes with nuts — old-fashioned banana bread is equally at home on the breakfast table as it is for dessert.

But I didn’t want something sweet. Couple this with the fact that I had some time on my hands and I thought to incorporate bananas into a yeast-raised recipe. I consulted my cookbooks and wouldn’t you know it, Rose Levy Berenbaum already had a recipe for just such a thing.

I love RLB’s recipes — every bread turns out great. But often times she kills you with multiple rises and long pre-ferments. I had time, but not that much! But there was a note at the end of her recipe that mentioned that banana and boiled potato have almost the same water content and can be substituted similarly in bread recipes. That brought me to the White Bread recipe in the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. It calls for potato flakes or flour, but I used RLB’s tip and subbed mashed banana and a little less water.

The bread turns out soft and feathery, with just a hint of banana aroma and flavor. I was happy to eat it straight up, but it was really good when I used it for a peanut butter and banana sandwich!

3 cups (12 3/4 oz.) unbleached AP flour
2 tsp. instant yeast (or a shade less than 1 packet)
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3 TB sugar (1 1/4 oz. by weight)
4 TB butter, softened (2 oz.)
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk (1 1/4 oz.)
1 ripe banana, slightly mashed (approx 4 oz. by weight)
3/4 cup lukewarm water (6 oz.)

Combine all the ingredients and knead them (by hand or machine) until you’ve made a smooth, soft dough. It should be barely tacky. Don’t add a lot of extra flour — you’ll end up with a dry loaf. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours until almost doubled in bulk.

You can now either shape the dough into a loaf or cut it into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Either way, place it into a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan and cover again. Preheat the oven to 350 while the bread proofs, about an hour. The dough should rise above the rim of the loaf pan by about 1/2 inch. Once you get there, uncover and bake for 35-40 minutes. If it seems to be getting too brown toward the end of cooking, you can tent with foil.

When it’s done, take it out of the pan and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour to cool completely. Then slice (or pull apart if you went with the dough balls) and enjoy!

5 thoughts on “banana bread, but not that kind of banana bread”

  1. I have a friend from Sweden that used to always make a banana bread similar to this. The only exceptions were cardamom as the Scandinavians are prone using, and currants. It was one of my favorite things to enjoy over a cup of tea.

    PS. I have found the most amazing use for zucchini.. brownies! Interested? I have been dying to share this recipe with someone…

  2. Brooke — do share the brownie recipe! I happen to have some cardamom and will definitely try it in this bread the next time I make it.

    – Dominic

  3. Dominic,
    As couldn't find your email address on the site I will simply post the recipe here, my email is [email protected] if you would like to reply more directly there.. I have been checking back here periodically and didn't see your post until today.. still new to the whole "blog" thing. Hope you enjoy the recipe.. I have been making them all summer as I have zucchini coming out my ears from the garden!!

    PS. Somehow my zucchini and summer squash cross bred and I now have a weird strain of giant chartreuse colored zucchini, which needs peeling as I waited too long to pick it.. Anyway, I shredded it and have been using it successfully in this recipe as well!

    Zucchini Brownies

    2 c. shredded zucchini
    1/2 c. veg. oil
    1 1/2 c. sugar
    1/4 c. strong coffee
    2 tsp. vanilla
    2 c. A.P. flour
    3/4 c. cocoa
    1 1/2tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 c. walnuts or choc. chips for the top

    If you're brave, 2 Tbsp orange zest or a 1/2 tsp. of orange oil in these are divine!

    Preheat oven to 350'. Grease and flour a 9×13" pan. In a large bowl mix sugar, oil, zucchini, & vanilla, coffee (orange oil or zest). In a separate bowl sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder, add to wet ingredients and mix until moist. It will be a bit dry, but do not worry! Press into pan sprinkle with chocolate chips or walnuts.(or both!) Bake for 25-30 mins. or until the center is barely set. And if you are as much a chocoholic as I am, you can make a chocolate ganache by using one part heavy cream to one part chocolate, cover them with when cooled.

    As a side note, I am truly an incorrigible chocoholic. And although this recipe works as is, I tend to use dutch process cocoa in EVERYTHING! I prefer the flavor and lack of bitterness.. But as the acid is what causes baked goods to set, it is worth mentioning that for this recipe to work with dutch process one should substitute a tsp. of baking powder for the baking soda.

  4. Hi Dominic!

    I’m writing to comment about your delicious yeasted banana bread – I made it last Saturday and just couldn’t get enough of it! It was delicious, with a subtle but great banana touch, and insanely tender! The recipe was pretty easy, too, and I was more than thrilled with the results.

    I tried making Jamie Oliver’s banana honey yeasted bread and it was a total disaster… Then, one of my readers gave me your link and I had to try your recipe. Since I absolutely loved it, I was wondering if I could post it on my blog, giving you credit for it and linking you – is it OK? I hope so!

    Kind regards,

  5. I thought I'd leave a quick note of thanks here: I made this yeasted banana bread yesterday, and it came out fantastic! I pitted it head-to-head against a "normal" banana bread, and my workmates all preferred the yeasted version. Score one for fermentation!

    In terms of execution, I kept the dough as wet as possible (added just enough flour to be able to knead it by hand without sticking everywhere) and used around 1/4 cup of white bread flour mixed in with the AP flour. I covered the loaf with foil for the last ~10 minutes of cooking.

    Thanks for sharing your creation!

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