Tuesday, August 5, 2008

{TWD} The Black and White Banana Loaf + Bonus variation loaf

[update 8/7/08:I finally cut the rest of the bread, and love how the marbling turned out!]

I volunteered to bring the food for our book discussion group this Thursday. I figured this week's challenge, the Black and White Banana Loaf, would be perfect for our coffee-and-dessert gathering (well we have some cheese and fruit and such for those who come straight from work without dinner, but the desserts generally rule).

I've devised a fabulous and very healthy Whole-Wheat Blueberry Banana bread that I make regularly for breakfast. When my bananas get (over)ripe I mash and measure them, drop the mash into freezer bags and I'm ready for baking time. My freezer had several cups of bananas but I had no real idea how much to use for the 1.5 bananas Dorie calls for.

A bit of research (thank you Google) turned up differing estimates on how many bananas per cup - anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 cup for 1.5 bananas, I guess because banana size can vary so much. So I planned to use 2/3 cup for a single loaf, but after reading the P&Q and finding that people were having trouble with runny batter, I actually used a smidge less.


Never one to leave well enough alone, I had the great idea to make an additional loaf for my husband, who is allergic to chocolate. Coffee/Banana came into my mind and would not leave. Even when I realized that my husband is out of town, so I could cook and enjoy a chocolate dessert without guilt. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I went ahead with the plan. Except I concluded that half a loaf for him would be ideal (limited freezer space). And a full Chocolate/Banana loaf for the group.

So, that's 1.5 x Dorie's recipe (except for the ingredients for the chocolate, which are not increased). Then mix the batter, divide into slightly unequal halves, then split the smaller half into two parts (2/3 chocolate and 1/3 coffee). A spreadsheet might have helped (a la Engineer Baker). IF I had any idea how to do a spreadsheet.

In the end I calculated the ingredients in my head and wrote them on a sticky note which I put on the cookbook page, covering the original ingredients so I wouldn't accidentally revert to their authority. I weighed the batter on my kitchen scale to get the halves, two-thirds, and one-thirds roughly correct. My scale is not that accurate and this little exercise drove me to order a new digital scale - click here for all your scale/weighing needs (thanks again, Google).

Aside from the math test aspect, the recipe came together beautifully. Gotta love the stand mixer. And the details Dorie provides: "The batter will look curdled and it will continue to look curdled as you add ingredients." Check. I followed the instructions religiously; nutmeg, rum, lemon juice, lemon zest, it all went in.


I've never marbled, so I studied all the alternative methods in Dorie's book before deciding on the spoonful technique. The chocolate batter was a lot thicker than the banana. The coffee batter was thin (I added a heaping teaspoon of instant coffee to half a tablespoon boiling water for the half loaf). I scooped with the spoon and then zigged and zagged with the knife. No way of knowing how it worked until it was cooked and cut.


My mom always made amazing cranberry bread and used long slim aluminum loaf pans. One year my dad surprised me on my birthday with two of these loaf pans that he'd picked up somewhere. I have a lot of loaf pans but these are my absolute favorites. The bread cooks evenly and the slices look pretty with straight up-and-down sides. I have some similar smaller pans that are great for 1/2 recipes.

I baked the loaves at a slightly lower temperature (especially since I suspect my oven runs a bit hot) so they would cook through and not brown too fast. Based on the early comments in the P&Q, I tented the pans after the first 30 minutes, but I actually wish I hadn't. I would have liked to have the loaves a bit browner on top, especially since I froze them (I think the moist tops will be sticky when they thaw).

Curiosity almost killed me! I couldn't wait to see the marbling. Finally the loaves cooled and I could cut them. The chocolate turned out great.

The coffee loaf didn't have as much contrast and the marbling was more 'mixed', I think because of the thinner batter.


The Verdict:
These were really lovely loaves. Veritable marvels of marbling! As far as flavor, nothing 'stood out' – despite the various flavorings, nutmeg, lemon, rum, banana – the cake didn’t taste overly-anything to me. It was just right. Great texture and nicely moist. And really pretty marbling.

The banana coffee loaf was also quite good - the flavors got along nicely.

Thanks to Ashlee of A Year In The Kitchen for choosing this week's recipe, which she'll post at her site, or you can find it on page 232 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours. (The book is amazing. Buy it now!) Check out the other versions of this recipe by visiting the 230+ other TWD bakers.

47 comments:

Jacque said...

MMMmmm, looks like your a natural when it comes to marbleing! It looks fantastic :)

Nickki said...

They look so good! I was a bit concerned about using too much banana too, but luckily mine didn't turn out runny.

Pamela said...

I never did remember to look at that section about marbling in Dorie's book. Your loaves turned out great!

Jules Someone said...

Very nice. I like those loaf pans.

Flourchild said...

Hello. Your bread turned out wonderful This is the first banana bread I made that had way to much chocolate. I won't use that much again. I like your pans too, your dad was sweet to buy them for you! Enjoy your day!

Katrina said...

those look fabulous! I did the spoon technique too, and was happy with the results.
I love your header image - I've got 2 4-legged crumb vaccums in my house too!

Prudy said...

Great idea to make two different loaves. They both look beautiful.

The DeLadurantey Sisters said...

Coffee and Chocolate? You go girl!

I agree the chocolate batter was definately thicker then the banana!

Bumblebutton said...

Lovely job on both of them! They look terrific!

SiHaN said...

Yummy! that looks awfully good!

mybakingheart said...

Mmmm, coffee loaf sounds SO good! :) Nice marbling, too!

Anne said...

Wow, your marbling is perfect, I love it! Great job!

slush said...

Coffee loaf sounds fab. Wish I had some of that right now. Great job!

Melissa said...

Yours looks amazing! The coffee addition sounds yummy!

Mary Ann said...

It looks wonderful- very nice marbling. Interesting variation, also. I am with you on the flavors, I thought they all blended very well together.

Kayte said...

Great post...I learned a lot from you in this post, so thank you! Photos were lovely, and the idea of coffee replacing chocolate is a very reasonable, thoughtful sub! I will try that soon...perfect for a brunch...or a book group! Thanks for sharing.
~Kayte
www.grandmaskitchentable.typepad.com

Natashya said...

The marbling looks great, how nice of you to make a special loaf for your hubby.

Marie said...

Your loaves look really wonderful! The coffee and banana combination sounds great!

Mara said...

I love coffee and banana, great combo!! I put some Kahlua and coffee extra into my chocolate so it was kind of like a choco coffee banana loaf. All types of fabulous. Fab two loaves!

The Food Librarian said...

I found the banana quality tricky too! Your 1 1/2 banana might not be my 1 1/2 bananas. Your loaves look delicious! I love the name of your blog.

sara said...

Love that you adapted the recipe to fit your husbands lifestyle/allergies. I think the idea of coffee in this is lovely, I'll need to make that!

Isa said...

Yeah, Dorie is great cause she makes you bake and practice math... haha, your loafes look amazing. I really like the cofee variation...

Teanna said...

The banana coffee loaf sounds delicious and they both look gorgeous!

Christine said...

Yum to both loaves, the coffee one was a great idea! Nice of you to bring this to your book discussion, what was the book??

Jessie said...

Your loaf looks great too! The lemon is a great idea for your ww blueberry bread. I often add some lemon zest to ww blueberry pancakes and it really brightens the flavor.

n.o.e said...

We're working our way through Dante's Divine Comedy - in Purgatorio now. I'm baking something else tomorrow to bring to the meeting, but haven't done the reading yet!

Kait said...

Your husband is allergic to chocolate? That must be torture for the both of you!

Thanks for the tips that you left in the comments of my blog... seeing how yours turned out, I definitely want to try it again.

n.o.e said...

Fortunately for him he actually prefers fruit desserts and vanilla-type things. I love chocolate, however, so I never have to share (with him!) One of our dogs loves chocolate and in her younger days ate not one, but two chocolate cakes right off the counter. My mistake that it ever happened more than once. Luckily she was OK, since dogs are allergic to chocolate too...

Cynikell said...

Ooooooo NICE! I wish I had read the alternative marbling ... mine didn't work out so well.

Cynikell said...

... and I love the picture at the top of your blog. :)

Shandy said...

I LOVE your loaf pans and the marbling on your bread is perfect. I bet the book group really enjoyed the treat you brought them. I was worried about the chocolate dominating the flavor category, so that is why I thought of the bananas foster. You are so cute that you looked out for hubby and made him some with coffee flavoring. =D

Peabody said...

Oh, I'm interested in the coffee loaf...yum!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I should have Googled for the 1,5 banana to cup equivalent, but instead I ended up using two whole bananas and I think my loaf suffered for it. Your loaf looks great, well done!

PANTRY REVISITED by Peggy said...

I liked the coffee idea! Your loaf looks great!

clickmichelle said...

Mmmmm, coffee! I might have to try that variation!

I used to have loaf pans like that. They were wonderful. Now I'm wondering which box they are still hiding in.

lusciousfood.com said...

What gorgeous loaves! And those long pans sound great - I want to track some down. Surely I can find them in NY. Your marbling is lovely.

Prudence - Cake Chica said...

Your marbling is fantastic! Great job!

kittymama said...

Coffee & banana sounds great! I am so jealous of those loaf pans of yours.

Liliana said...

Both loafs look delicious. I love your loaf pans!

bakerchick103 said...

Thanks for commenting on my loaf. Your's looks great! Your marbling turned out perfectly. I just don't know what happened with mine. I guess it'll be an unsolved mystery.

Rebecca of "Ezra Pound Cake" said...

Gorgeous! But all that math ... ewww. ;)

Di said...

Very nice marbling! I'm like you--I have to write down changes to the recipe (such as halving or doubling) to make sure I don't get confused part-way through and forget to adjust one of the ingredients.

Shari said...

Wow, love the comparison. I'll have to give your coffee version a try!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Your loaves look lovely! The marbling is perfect! The coffee version sounds great too.

Brooke said...

Man, I wish my marbling looked that good.

Roni said...

I really like that long loaf pan. Beautiful job, they look great!

BETTYISAWESOME said...

Awesome blog on the loaf and love the pics as well. :D