There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
by Isabel Allende

Starting in November of 2009 Michelle at the Big Black Dog formed a group to bake its way through Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. I loved Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, so I signed up with the group. Michelle first had us do a couple of warm-up assignments, which were my first attempt at blogging. The first "Official" post was on January 15, 2010, and it was followed by 41 more, on the 1st and 15th of each month. When I signed on I said I would bake the whole book, and like Horton (the elephant) I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I finished baking the book on October 1, 2011. Having completed that challenge, now I am just going to do some stuff, and post about it. As part of that stuff Michelle is posing a new, and different, challenge for us each month.

I am still baking bread, mostly the Five Minutes a Day kind, and if you would like to try the Five Minutes a Day bread method there are some links, with recipes, in the right hand column to get you started. Please give it a try.

But first, a word from my sponsor . . .
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This day be bread and peace my lot.
Alexander Pope

How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?

Julia Child

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
Yiddish proverb
(And some are only half baked.)

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw, via Sharon

Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.
George Herbert

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Banana Bread Revisited

Several of the bakers last time, myself included, thought that the banana flavor in the Whole Wheat Banana Bread as a bit subdued.  Interestingly, the most recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated had a recipe aimed at addressing the same issue in banana quick breads.  Their solution was (duh) to use more bananas.  When I made the half recipe for the last post, which called for 1 cup of mashed bananas, I used 2 large bananas, which came out to be a bit more than 1 cup.  Cook's used 6 (six) bananas per loaf! (5 in the dough and one sliced on top.)  Their trick, in addition to being sure to use ripe bananas, was to cook the bananas in the microwave for 5 minutes to get them to extrude their juice, and then drain the bananas in a sieve over a bowl for 15 minutes.  Alternatively, Cook's says you can use defrosted frozen bananas (freezing is a great way to save ripe bananas for baking or smoothies, just peel before freezing, trust me) since they will also extrude their juice, just be sure to save the juice as you defrost them.

Cook's then reduced the juice on the stove so as to not make their batter too wet.  I did this, but I am not sure it was necessary for the way I used the juice.  The half recipe called for 3/4 cup of water, so I put the reduced juice in the measuring cup and added water to get 3/4 cup.  So I boiled off the water and then added it back.  Reminds me of the two boys (girls are smarter than this) walking home from school one spring afternoon when the came across a puddle full of frogs.  The first boy said "bet you $5 you won't eat one of those frogs."  Not able to turn down a dare, the second boy ate a frog and got $5.  The first boy observed that he could not believe his friend had actually eaten the frog.  This prompted the second boy to say "bet you $5 you won't eat one of those frogs."  Again, faced with a dare, the first boy ate a frog, and got his $5 back.  The boys continued on, and as they reached home the first one asked the second "why did we eat the frogs?"

After draining  the 5 cooked bananas I measured them, and had about a cup, which is what the recipe called for, so I left that alone.  Other than that, and adding some extra cinnamon and walnuts, I made the half recipe as before.  I baked the entire batch, using a slightly larger loaf pan.  Being in for a penny, I went in for the pound and added a sliced banana on top.

The verdict?
I did  not notice any difference from the batch with two bananas.  My saintly wife and not only perfect but red-haired daughter thought it tasted a bit more of banana, but not much. But with three times the number of bananas there should have been a big difference.   Which makes me wonder if the whole grain is either muting or overpowering the fruit flavor.  That is what Michelle speculated when she was disappointed with her Cherry Bread.

Well, since there there is no such thing as failure, only feedback, I  thought I would share my experiment. 


  1. This is good to know! :) I wonder if there's an ingredient that would enhance the banana flavor...kinda like how balsamic vinegar enhances strawberries.

  2. I am stumped by the fruit issue with whole grains. I had the same problem when I made the berry bread. No one in my family liked the flavor in the Whole Wheat.

  3. Danielle's suggestion to add a bit of Balsamic is a great idea. Vinegar can bump up the flavor of bread and I use it often to enhance chocolate.

    Love the banana racing stripes!

  4. what a great idea to line the side of the pan with banana. Gives it a great look

  5. I admire your pursuit! I make a banana quick bread that calls for white flour, whole wheat flour and wheat germ. I use all white flour and use the amount of wheat germ called for. I feel like this gives it some substance without making it too dense. I wonder if something like that could work here? I am putting this HBinFive recipe off until the winter. I don't want bananas at this time of year!

  6. Great experiment and post! Loved it. I freeze my bananas but leave the skins on. Hadn't thought about cooking them for a bit. Laughed when I read about cooking the banana juice down then adding water back in! I too love the way you lined the pan with bananas...great idea!

  7. You're hilarious! What a great post! I'll have to try the banana bread again using this method and see if we like it better. Thanks for the tips!

  8. What a great post!

    I think it's the whole wheat that is hiding the banana flavor. I made some zuccini "crabcake" burgers the other day and decided to use whole wheat bread crumbs. I think it's the whole wheat that hid the flavor of the Old Bay seasoning!

  9. The sliced bananas on the bread looked great. Thanks for experimenting with the recipe.