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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chocolate-Banana Marble Bread

I’m not very good at following recipes. I don’t start out trying to be a recipe rebel but once I get into the kitchen, I tend to stray from the written word.

Yes, yes, you’re right that baking is incredibly scientific and you have to be careful with your tinkering. But, if you know a bit of the “why” behind what you’re doing and have a slightly daring spirit, you should be able to twist a recipe and get something yummy. And if it tastes like an old man’s boot…well, we learn from our mistakes!

My most recent recipe interpretation was for Chocolate-Banana Marble Bread. I know the original recipe is a good one because I tried it (a good starting point). Plus, I had some over-ripe bananas in the freezer that I wanted to clear out. The freezer is a good trick if you have bananas that are super-ripe but don’t have time to bake. All you need to do is peel them, stick them in a sealed plastic baggie and put them in the freezer.

The first thing I did to the marble bread recipe was add a bit of salt. I add salt to all baking recipes if they don’t include it, just a pinch of it boosts the flavors of everything else - your final product won’t taste salty…just more delicious.

In the original recipe, there was more butter than there needed to be. I decided to brown the butter in a small saucepan over low heat to pump up the butter flavor while using less of it (a great trick I got from America’s Test Kitchen). Since I had removed some of the butter but wanted to ensure that the final product was still moist, I decided to use a bit more buttermilk than the recipe called for and substitute half of the total sugar with brown sugar. Another issue I had with the original recipe was that it didn’t call for any actual chocolate (just cocoa powder). I’m a chocolate fiend so the chocolate omission needed to be addressed, and what better way than with chocolate chips?!

Speaking of chocolate chips…I’ve had a hard time finding really delicious chocolate chips. It’s easy to see the word “chocolate” and sort of trick yourself into thinking they taste good, but lots of the brands out there don’t! I did a taste test at home and was disappointed by the majority of the brands on the shelves. My favorite brand of chocolate chips at the local Whole Foods Market are made by the company “Enjoy Life”. The chocolate chips are mini, which I actually prefer in most baked goods…the proportions end up juuuuust right.

Out of the oven, all warm and toasty. Chocolate! Bananas! Joy!

The recipe I came up with is below…please tweak it to your liking.

Chocolate-Banana Marble Bread
(Thanks to Cindy Mushet for the recipe upon which this one is based)

3 very ripe medium sized bananas, peeled and at room temp
½ cup buttermilk
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sifted pastry flour
1 cup sifted all purpose flour (you can use 2 sifted cups of all purpose flour if you don’t have pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural is fine…I used natural)
3 tablespoons boiling water
6 Tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat a 9x5 loaf pan with melted butter or high-heat canola spray and line it with a piece of parchment that extends 1 inch beyond the long edges of both sides of the pan (this will make it easy to take the bread out of the pan).

Put butter in a small saucepan over low-moderate heat and swirl the pan as the butter melts and starts to brown…when the butter starts to smell slightly nutty and the color darkens to amber, take it off the heat and let it cool (if you burn the butter…and you’ll know if you do…start over or your marble bread will taste bitter).

Sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Set aside. Put the coca powder in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over it until it forms a smooth paste. Set aside.

Put the bananas in the bowl of a food processor and process to a smooth puree (or just mash them with a fork). Transfer the puree to a large bowl and add the sugars, buttermilk, cooled browned butter, vanilla, and eggs and whisk until just blended.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredient mixture and add the wet ingredients, gently mix until just blended...mix only until there aren’t any white pockets of flour.

Transfer half of the batter to a medium sized bowl, add the cocoa paste and gently but thoroughly blend it together.

Fold half of the chocolate chips into the light batter and half into the dark batter.

Drop alternating spoonfuls of the dark and light batters into the prepared pan, then “marbelize” it by using a spoon to gently turn the batter over in 3 places down the length of the pan (you’re essentially folding the two colors of batter into one another).

Bake for 55-65 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. When cool, remove from pan, peel off parchment and cut slices using a serrated knife.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the part when the batter gets "marbelized". Looks like fun!