Thursday, December 20, 2007

Give the Gift of Banana Bread (Yes, I'm Serious)

I’m not a baker. I freely admit that I’m not very good at it. I can bake three things with confidence: banana bread, classic brownies and chocolate cake. Anything else is a crap shoot.

But there is something about the holiday season that puts me in the mood (to bake!). I can’t explain why I woke up one morning and decided I was going to give my neighbors and coworkers the gift of homemade baked goods. Luckily for everyone I stuck to the banana bread and brownies. I also added truffles to the list. Since they were made from the brownie scraps, I was reasonably confident they would turn out okay (and they did). So if you are thinking about giving home-baked gifts this year here is a recipe that is foolproof.

Who doesn't like brownies?

Truffles made with scraps of the brownies, finely chopped pecans and chocolate ganache rolled in toasted coconut or chopped pecans

What’s so special about banana bread you ask? Normally I’d say nothing. Every banana bread recipe I ever tried turned out dry, until I found this one. Of course I had to change some stuff around. I’m not a nuts-in-baked-goods kind of person, so I nixed the nuts and added shredded coconut instead. I also reduced the sugar because I’m a mean old witch. These little details are inconsequential because it’s the 1 ½ sticks of butter that is the key. Mess with that and you’re asking for a dry-ass banana bread. I think whipping the bananas into a cream also helps keep the bread moist.

Banana Bread with Coconut and Chocolate Ganache
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup shredded coconut (I prefer unsweetened, but sweetened is fine)
  • optional: chocolate chips or chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts
  • chocolate ganache (recipe follows)
  • optional: toasted shredded coconut for sprinkling on top
Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.

Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whip the remaining bananas and the sugar with an electric mixer until light and frothy. This will take a couple of minutes. Add the cooled butter, eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add in the dry ingredients a little at a time, until it’s all just incorporated. Fold in the mashed bananas, shredded coconut, chocolate chips or nuts if using.

This bread makes enough for a 9”x5” loaf pan or 3 or 4 mini pans. Make sure the pans are greased. Bake the large loaf for at least 1 hour, but probably closer to 1 hour 10 minutes. Use the toothpick test to check if it’s done. The loaf will crack, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s done. Don’t worry; it’ll still be moist. The mini pans get about 35 to 45 minutes. Check after 35 and go from there.

When the bread is done, take it out and let it cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning it out and cooling it on a rack. It needs to be completely cooled when you frost it with the ganache.

Chocolate Ganache
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz of your favorite chocolate, broken into chunks (yes, chips will work too)
The traditional way to make this frosting is on the stovetop in a double boiler. Being as lazy as I am, I use the microwave. Use a Pyrex or other microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the cream and chocolate on half power until the chocolate is melted. After each minute, stir to promote even melting. Once the chocolate is melted, whip it with a whisk to get a uniform sauce (don’t worry, it will set after a few hours).

Before topping the banana bread, make sure it’s cooled to room temperature. Place the loaf on a sheet of parchment or foil. Drizzle the ganache over the loaf, making a decorative pattern or completely covering the top of the loaf. Allow to set at room temp for 2 or 3 hours.

1 comment:

Manggy said...

Yum! A banana bread recipe made with oil will be unfailingly moist too. Also good with banana bread? Cream cheese frosting. Drool!