Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Spicy Banana Bread

In the pan and on the plate.

Spicy Banana Bread
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Soften butter to room temperature. Sift flour with baking soda, salt and spices. Cream butter and gradually add sugar, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with mashed bananas and orange juice, stirring only to blend. Fold in nuts and vanilla. Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake one hour. Let cool 30 mins. in pan.


When Carolyn, my oldest friend, told me she had a recipe for "Spicy Banana Bread," I thought it might be another example of fusion desserts. Like wasabi infused chocolate, or chipotle spiked ice cream, I expected a heavy dose of chili pepper.

Yeah...I was wrong.

This quick bread is spicy, but not in a pepper or mustard way. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves are deepen the bread’s flavor, complementing the gentle sweetness of the banana and sugar. I'm a real spice fan, so next time I'll increase the amount of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and see how things turn out.

Carolyn also suggested using older bananas, and she’s absolutely right. Don’t make this banana bread, or any other, with those barely ripe bananas you get at the store. Wait until they’ve got lots of brown freckles on them – that’s when they’re sweetest. In fact, a banana that’s too brown to eat straight (simply from an aesthetic perspective) is perfect for banana bread. But if you’ve only got one too-brown banana, just toss it in the freezer. The peel will get very dark but the banana inside will be fine. When you’re ready to make bread, just pop the banana out of the deep freeze and thaw.

Making the batter was simple – smooth sailing all the way. Baking it up was a little different. I was worried my oven was still running too hot, so I took a peek after 45 minutes. The bread looked done but the toothpick test revealed a batter-y inside. Uh-oh. I reduced the temperature to 330-degrees and baked for another 10 minutes. No darker but a bit less wet. Then, I moved the temperature back to 350 and baked for another 16 minutes. Done! This time, the bread was cooked throughout and perfectly browned with a nice centered peak. (Plus, the house was filled with the spicy scent of baked goods.) Lesson learned: the oven’s thermostat has been recalibrated – no need to bake at a lower temp.

Very tasty, and the flavors seem to intensify as the bread cools. A great accompaniment to a well-brewed cup of tea. I can't wait to toast a slice and smear it with butter.

Grade: A

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Anonymous said...

This would go great with some of that vanilla tea we had at Tea & Sympathy in NYC. :)

Laura Rebecca said...

Mmm, I know -- that's exactly what I was thinking of. The black currant tea is great, too.

I was there this summer and had their spicy ginger cake. I would kill for that recipe -- and it's not in their cookbook, either.

Shauna said...

You should submit this recipe to my banana bread contest:


There aren't a whole lot of entries so you'd stand a good chance of winning the grand prize (a $50 giftcard to Sur La Table).

Or if you're not up to contributing, rank a few of the other recipes!


Anonymous said...

I have not tried a spicy version of banana bread, but this sounds so good, I am going to give it a try.