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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Banana-Coconut Bread...with other stuff

I found this recipe on the Orangette food blog. Having frozen a bunch of bananas, I realized I needed to do something with them sooner than later. I also had some shredded coconut on hand, left over from a recent soiree, so my task was readily at hand--I just had to make my bread. There was also a bag of trail mix with all sorts of nuts and dried fruit that I found in the kitchen so that went in too. The result? Inspired! Delicious! The sprinkling of demerara sugar definitely put it over the top. Do enjoy and take it away Orangette! 

Banana-Coconut Bread
Adapted from HomeBaking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition around the World, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

I have one word for you: demerara. This bread is lovely in its own right, but it owes a good deal of its charm to this very special sugar. Demerara has large, golden grains that sparkle in the light, and sprinkled on top of this banana-moistened batter, it yields a crisp, sweetly craggy crust that steals the show - and that stays crunchy on the second day, even! You can buy demerara sugar online from any number of sources, or look for it in your local gourmet store. I found mine at an upscale market nearby, and I think Whole Foods also carries it. Either way, buy it. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to sprinkle it all over the place.

About 3 large, overripe bananas
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp. dark rum
½ cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut
1 Tbsp. demerara or dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a standard-size loaf pan.

In a blender or food processor, purée the bananas. Measure out 1 ½ cups of purée. [If you have more than that, try stirring the excess into some plain yogurt. It’s delicious.] Set the purée aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vinegar and rum, and beat to mix well. Add the banana purée and the flour mixture alternately, about 1 cup at a time, beginning with the banana and beating to just incorporate. Use a spatula to fold in any flour that has not been absorbed, and stir in the coconut. Do not overmix.

Scrape the batter – it will be thick – into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, and sprinkle evenly with the demerara sugar. Bake for 50-65 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes; then turn the loaf out of the pan and allow it to cool completely.

This loaf will keep, sealed airtight, for three to four days, although it is best, I think, on the second day.

Note: You can use frozen bananas here too, and with beautiful results. Whenever I have overripe bananas sitting on my counter, I throw them – skin and all – into the freezer for safekeeping. When I want to bake with them, I pull them out a few hours before, put them in a wide, shallow bowl, and let them thaw. When they have softened fully, I tear open the skin and let the soft, slippery flesh spill out. Be sure to save any juices that come out with it; they’re very flavorful and can be puréed along with the flesh.

Yield: 1 loaf

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