For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

Monday, December 2, 2013

Banana Nut Bread

My dad-in-law absolutely loves bananas. And he's also absolutely sweet when it comes to obliging his only daughter-in-law. All I did was ask for three bananas (I needed them for a smoothie but didn't have any), and he gave me a whole hand of them. That's the inspiration for this bread. I needed to use up the bananas fast!

Or maybe, I didn't. I could just have waited till they were mostly black and ready to be made into banana nut cake, or banana crunch muffins, or chunked and frozen, ready for the next smoothie.

But I was going to bake a loaf of bread, not the quickbread version of banana nut bread, with butter, and tasting more like cake. It was for breakfast, which meant that it had to aim to be more reminiscent of wholesomeness, rather than indulgent pampering. Of course, I do understand that some mornings, what we do need is indeed indulgent pampering. Never mind, we'll save that for another day.

And so, here is my yeasted version of banana nut bread, specifically: honey wheatgerm banana bread with pecans and dates. Ever since my discovery of preferment, I've more or less given up the straight dough method, as breads made with preferments are just so much better - unless you're eating freshly made bread within a couple of hours of its exit from the oven. Not a luxury I currently have! But bread baking with preferment is a luxury to me, too, due to the sheer amount of time the whole process takes. So I have been relying on the next best alternative : a water-roux, or tangzhong starter. Texture and softness wise, it's not bad.

Just out of the oven. Love the poof! 

Banana Nut Bread (Adapted from Christine's Recipes)

For the dough:
310 g bread flour
40 g toasted wheatgerm
5-6 g (2 tsp) yeast
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp + 2 tsp honey
120 g tangzhong (Directions on how to make this are available at Christine's site)
125 ml milk
1 egg (You'll also need a little more beaten egg for egg wash)
30 g butter, cut into small cubes

For the filling: 
A handful of chopped pecan nuts
2 just-ripe bananas, cut into small chunks
A handful of dates, diced

Knead : Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of your freestanding mixer, and make a well in the centre. Add everything else into the well, except the butter. Knead for 5 min until a smooth dough is formed. Add the butter and keep on kneading till all the butter is incorporated. Keep on kneading till the windowpane texture is achieved. Throw in the chopped pecans, and mix briefly.

First proof : Form the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled, large mixing bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and let it proof for 40 min in a warm place. It should double in size.

Punch down and rest: After 40 min, punch the air out of the dough and shape it into four even balls. Leave to rest for 10 min.

Shape : Roll each ball out into an oval, and sprinkle the banana chunks and dates on. Roll up tightly, and place in a loaf tin. Repeat for the other three balls.

Final proof : Leave to proof for a final 40 min, with the tea towel draped over. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius. Just before placing into the oven, brush the top of the loaf with beaten egg.

Bake : Bake for 30-40 min, checking if it is done after 30 min. Do also check the colour of the crust; I found that mine was bronze enough just after 10 min, and I had to place a sheet of aluminum foil over it as a result to prevent further darkening of the crust. When the loaf has a shiny bronzed color, and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom of the tin, it's done.

 A pre-slicing pic

Stuffed and swirled with chunky, oozy banana date goodness!

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