Question: What can you do with two over-ripe bananas, whole wheat pastry flour and
Answer: Banana Hazelnut Bread
Here I was ready to toss a couple of bananas past their ready-to-eat date and I thought I should make some banana bread. The problem is that I like banana bread, but I don’t “love” banana bread. It never inspired me to try my hand at it, particularly when most of the recipes called for too much vegetable oil and white sugar. So, I decided to play around with alternative ingredients and see if I could still get a good result.
My take includes substituting half of the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour and half of the white sugar with brown sugar. Both of these substitutions result in a richer flavor. Add the use of Irish butter instead of vegetable oil and some sour cream to keep the bread from being too heavy and toasted hazelnuts and I ended up with a much more interesting take on the same old banana bread.
Banana Hazelnut Bread
- ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt (not kosher)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 swipes of the grater over a whole nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Large dollop sour cream (approx. ¼ cup)
- 4 oz. Irish or European style butter (such as Kerrygold)
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2-3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork (about 1 cup)
- ½ cup toasted and shelled hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Add both flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a medium bowl and whisk gently. This not only combines the ingredients but also eliminates the step of sifting.
Prepare your baking pan by thoroughly coating a 9x5x3 loaf pan with butter. This would also be a good time to preheat your oven to 350°.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and well incorporated. You can also use a stand-mixer if you prefer, but just like cookies, I think hand mixing produces a better result. Add the eggs, vanilla and sour cream and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Don’t worry, the batter will not be pretty and will actually look slightly curdled. Gradually add the dry ingredients and the curdled look will disappear.
Add the bananas and chopped hazelnuts and fold into the batter. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes. Test for doneness after 50 minutes by inserting a toothpick into bread. If it comes out clean, then the bread is done, otherwise cook for another 5 minutes and test again.
Let rest in pan for 5 minutes on rack. Run a knife around edges to loosen and then turn out of pan and let cool completely on rack. Wrap any uneaten portion tightly in plastic as it tastes even better the next day.
Tip: To remove husks from hazelnuts, spread on cookie sheet and put in oven for about 10 minutes at 325° and then turn out into linen kitchen towel. Rub gently and the husks will fall off the nuts, leaving the toasted nuts.