We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Best Banana Bread

by Michelle

   You might be surprised to find out that I make all my quick breads and biscuits in a food processor. I have found that the food processor method makes a nice high loaf with a tender crumb.
   The first domestic use food processor was introduced to America in 1973 by Cuisinart. Since that time, I cannot think of another kitchen tool that has been as revolutionary and versatile as the food processor. It slices, dices, chops, kneads, blends and purées. If mine broke tomorrow, I would run, not walk, to replace it immediately.
    In 1980, Abbey Mandel authored the nationally best selling cookbook Cuisinart Classroom. In the cookbook, Abbey provides the formula for converting your favorite recipes to the food processor method. First you mix your dry ingredients in the workbowl, and add your nuts to chop, if using. Transfer the dry ingredients to a bowl and reserve. Should your recipe call for sifted flour, simply remove one tablespoon of flour from each measured cup.

Over-ripe bananas signal that it is time to make banana bread.
   The next step is to process the sugar and the eggs together, then you add the butter or oil and process again. The liquid is combined and quickly added to the wet ingredients through the feed tube. Finally, the dry ingredients are added to the workbowl, and very briefly - using on and off pulses - are blended until the flour just disappears. The food processor helps you not to overwork the batter.
   This batter lends itself to all sorts of shapes and sizes from muffins to traditional loaves. I prefer longer and narrower loaves with slices cut generously. Muffins make delicious mid morning snacks tucked into lunch boxes. Our household always seems happier when homemade bread is being pulled from the oven. Store bought will never compare to a homemade quick bread made with care and love in your kitchen.

Sunday Best Banana Bread

   It's just as easy to makes two loaves of bread as it is one (as long as you have enough bananas.) The best approach is to prepare the dry ingredients for each loaf of bread and transfer to individual bowls. The best part is that you do not have to wash the food processor's work bowl between batches of batter.
   The loaves freeze beautifully wrapped well in aluminum foil. Or if you want to be a hero, give the welcome gift of a homemade loaf of this beautiful and tasty bread to a friend.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp double-acting baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnut pieces, optional
2 to 3 large, ripe bananas (about 13 ounces)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsps vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup chocolate chips or butterscotch chips, optional
Spray oil, such as Bak-Klene

Special Equipment
Food Processor
A standard 7-cup loaf pan or muffin pan
I prefer to use a loaf pan that I found at IKEA that measures 11.5"Lx4.25"Wx2.5"D

1. Position the rack to the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. In the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the first five ingredients and process until the nuts are chopped, about 10 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.
3. To the now empty workbowl, add chunks of peeled banana. Process the bananas for about one minute.

Starting the second loaf - no need to clean the bowl between batches.
4. Add the sugar and the eggs to the banans and process for one minute.
5. Add one stick of room temperature butter that has been cut into quarters and process for one minute.
6. With the machine running, pour the buttermmilk and vanilla through the feed tube.
7. Prepare your loaf pan by spraying with a non-stick oil spray and lighting coating with flour or use Bak-klene.
8. Add the reserved dry ingredients to the workbowl and blend with the wet ingredients by turning the food processor on and off 3 to 5 times until the flour just disappears. Do not overprocess the batter.

9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. A regular loaf pan will need to bake about 1 hour. The long bread pan that I use takes about 45 minutes. Muffins need 20-25 minutes.
10. Remove the loaves from the oven to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, then turn the bread out and continue to cool.

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