Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Taken from the classic Sunset Cookbook of Breads, I’ve used this recipe for nearly my entire life.

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup hot water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In large mixing bowl, place melted butter and sugar. Using paddle beater, mix until blended and no sugar crystals are apparent. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until blended. Add mashed bananas.

In separate bowl, or measuring cup, measure the whole-wheat flour, salt and soda, stirring to combine. Add to banana mixture, blending well. Don’t overmix, though.

Add the 1/3 cup hot water, mixing well.

Add in remaining flour, until just barely blended, then add chopped nuts.

Pour into greased 9″ loaf pan, then adorn the top with three walnut halves. Bake for 325 for 1 hour 10 minutes, testing to check for doneness with toothpick. Turn out onto cooling rack, and don’t cut until nearly completely cool, if you can wait that long (about an hour).

Banana-Miso Bread with Pecans

Intrigued by the ingredient list in this New York Times recipe (miso?), I wanted to try it. Roasting the pecans is the first step, and I resolve to come back to this and just roast some for snacking. My first hurdle: not enough banana (I measured mine).

In the notes someone had mentioned that his grandmother baked her bananas in order to get enough for a recipe. So while the oven was preheating, I took a mostly unripe banana, placed it on some parchment paper and put it in the oven. I took it out after 10 minutes, but it could have used another ten, I think. It was hot to the touch, and most all of the banana was soft enough for mushing, which I did.

After the nuts were roasted, I just lifted over the parchment paper to the cutting board, and chopped on that. E-Z Cleen-Up!

Another commenter lined their pan with a length of parchment paper, oiling it before putting down and then a light brush of oil on the bottom after it was set in. They said it was helpful to have “handles” to get the bread out, so all the chopped pecans on the top didn’t fall off. I used fine sea salt, and organic mellow while miso (mild); I’m showing this as some mentioned that their bread was salty. Ours wasn’t. I also added more pecans, subbed in some whole wheat flour.

Last changes: I added more nuts; scoop off 1/2 cup for the top, and the rest (plus salt) go into the loaf. I also cut back on the banana. This makes one loaf.

Ingredients
½ teaspoon vegetable oil, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons white miso (measure exactly)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/2 cups) If you are slightly below the measure, add a bit of water to bring it to 1 1/2 cups.

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9- or 10-inch loaf tin, then line the base with length of parchment paper, letting the edges extend over the sides of pan to serve as handles.
  2. Toss pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet with salt and oil. Bake until fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. When cool, chop coarsely
  3. While the pecans cool, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar using an electric mixer until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in eggs, milk, miso, honey and vanilla extract until well-combined. Gradually beat in dry ingredients until just combined.
  5. Using a spatula, stir bananas into the batter to combine evenly. Add half of the pecans (and any salt on the pan) to the batter and mix to combine evenly throughout. Add batter to the loaf pan, smoothing when complete. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly on top.
  6. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in several areas around the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. Tent with foil if it starts to darken too much on top before the middle is baked through. Check often after 1 hour; time to cook will be variable.
  7. Let bread sit in tin for 10 minutes before removing. Set on a rack to cool for 60 minutes before slicing.

Last thoughts: We found this bread to be rather dense the first time around, so made the changes I suggested. I think I still prefer my regular banana bread, but am thinking about how to combine those salty chopped pecans into my standard recipe.

Revised: Tiny Vanilla Cake

Perfect for two!

Revised Small Vanilla Cake
(I already published the original, but we’ve made so many changes, I thought I would post them here.)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter/grease the bottom and sides of your 6″ springform pan.  Cut out a parchment circle for the bottom, place in in the pan, then butter it again.  Dust lightly with flour, tapping out excess.

Ingredients

1 stick (8 Tablespoons) real butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk

Glaze Ingredients:
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more if needed
3 Tbls fresh lemon juice

Make:
Stir together the 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle beater.  Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds, then gradually add the sugar.  Continue beating on medium speed for another 4 minutes, scraping the bowl at the halfway point, until it is light in color and fluffy.

Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.  With the mixer on, gradually add the eggs, one at a time, making sure they are well blended into the mixture.  Williams notes: “if the batter curdles, add 1-2 Tablespoons of the flour mixture to bind it back together.”  (I had that problem only once.)

Alternate adding dry ingredients with the milk: first add the reserved dry ingredients to the butter mixture, then the 1/4 cup buttermilk (approx).  Add another 1/2 cup flour, then the remainder of the buttermilk.  End by adding the rest of the flour, but don’t overbeat.  Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl, blending well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake in the center of the oven for 55 minutes, checking after 50.  If you like a lighter colored cake, cover with tin foil after 30 minutes.  Check for doneness when a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, and it bounces back after lightly tapping it.

Let stand for 10 minutes on a cooling rack.  Release the springform pan ring (run a knife around the inside of the pan, if needed) and remove.  Turn cake over, and remove both the pan bottom and the parchment, then return it to the cooling rack, right-side up.

Add the lemon juice to the powdered sugar, and whisk together, getting rid of any lumps.  The glaze should be on the thick side.  If needed add more powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition.

Glaze now, while it is still warm, pouring the glaze on the top, and letting it slowly drip down the sides. It helps to put a sheet of waxed paper underneath the rack and the cake to catch any drips.