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Monday, March 08, 2010

The Morning-after Banana Bread - or how I can't leave a perfectly good recipe alone


Just like my friend The Amateur Gourmet Adam, who posted about his recipe-tweaking habit recently, I'm not one to leave a perfect good recipe alone.  Even when it comes to something so simple, and so seemingly perfect, I rarely could stop myself from tweaking it a little.  At times the results my tinkering are disastrous - Dorie Greenspan's perfectly innocent French Yogurt Cake recipe I played with yesterday was one, but that story's for another time.  At other times, however, I ended up with something like this Banana Bread, which I think - rather ungrammatically I might add - is a more perfect version of an already perfect recipe.

I first saw the recipe at Deb's delicious blog Smitten Kitchen.  On it she said she got the recipe from our mutual friend Elise at Simply Recipes.  Elise, in turn, got it from her friend Heidi's ski friend's mother Mrs. Hockmeyer.  The recipe was alarmingly simple.  First you mash up your banana, then stir in butter, egg, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Oh, yes, and flour.  By hand.  No fancy kitchen implements required.  That simple. 

So I baked one.  I liked it, quite a lot.  Though there was something that was just not quite there, there.  You know what I mean.  It was very good, but also very sweet, even after I reduced the sugar amount by 1/4 cup.  It was also rather flat and one-note, lacking acidity to support the cloying sweetness.  For this I'm not sure if it's the flaw of the recipe or it's the fault of the modern-day bananas engineered to be pretty much all sugar in a tubular form.  (You noticed this too, yes, I cannot possibly be the only one.) 

So, I set out to tinker with the recipe a little. 

Adding acidity is easy enough, just a spoonful or two of sour cream or yogurt should do.  But then, one thing led to another, and now I ended up with a recipe with a shot of espresso and a glug or two of Jameson whiskey in it.  I don't know, maybe it was a morning after a rather fun night out, so, you know, hair of the dog an all that.  All I know is the flavor of this loaf is pitch perfect - not too sweet, the tiny bit of added acidity brightens up the flavor quite a lot, plus the hint of espresso and Jameson added just the perfect amount of je ne sais quoi.  This has now become my basic banana bread recipe, and as you can see in the picture, we clearly have a problem keeping it around for too long.  That's how much we love this.

And, no, I'm not saying this is a sure cure for your hangover, but at least you can nurse it with a nice slice (or two, or four) for breakfast.

The Morning After Banana Bread

3-4 very ripe bananas (I use exactly 350g of banana, if you want to know.)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon sour cream or yogurt
1/3 cup (75g) melted butter
1 shot (about 1T) of espresso (or a scant 1 tablespoon of espresso granules)
2 tablespoons Jameson whisky (or any kind of rum)
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup (175g) All-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)

In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas until creamy.  Add the egg and sour cream, whisk to blend.  Next add the melted butter, espresso, and Jameson.  Stir to mix. 

Steps-2Then add the sugar, baking soda, and salt, and again stir vigorously until completely incorporated.  Sift the flour into the bowl, stir, gently this time, until the flour is incorporated and you can no longer see spots of white flour in the batter. 

Butter and floured a 9” loaf pan or line it with a piece of parchment.  (Yes, you're seeing two pans in the picture, I baked a double recipe.)  Pour the batter into the mold.  Knock the mold on the counter once or twice to let the batter fill it nicely and get rid of any air pockets.  Bake on a cookie sheet for 1 hr, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (You can use a wooden skewer or a toothpick if you don’t have a cake tester.)


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