Did you know that the Philippines has a folktale that tells of the origin of the banana plant? There are many versions of the tale and the names of the people involved in the story but it basically has to do with the very beautiful daughter of a husband and wife. They were very protective of their daughter but that didn’t prevent her from falling in love with a handsome man who some say was actually a benevolent spirit.
One version of the story say they got married, had a child but eventually he had leave the earth because he was a spirit so he told his young wife he had to return to his world. He left behind a bleeding heart which she planted and took care of until it grew into a banana plant with golden fruit. Her husband promised her that if she took care of the plant the leaves would provide her with shelter, the fruit with food and that she would always be taken care of.
Another version tells that the beautiful girl’s parents discovered her meeting the handsome young man on the sly and her father cut off the young man’s arm. The young girl apparently buried his arm but the next day it grew into a banana plant and eventually produced fruit that resembled a human hand with fingers!
I love bananas and I’m always up for a good recipe with bananas whether it’s these Cardamom Scented No Knead Banana Bread Rolls or a Banana Bread Pudding. Banana bread as we know it is usually a moist, sweet, cake-like quick bread, that is a bread that is leavened with baking powder. Much as I like those, I’m always partial to a Banana Bread that has risen with yeast.
This particular recipe is not your average Banana Bread but a mildly sweet Sandwich Bread with just a hint of banana in it. Of course, how strong the banana flavour in your bread is would depend on the variety of banana you use and more importantly, how ripe it is. Usually, the riper the banana, the stronger the flavour and the sweeter it is.
It also happens to be a very simple recipe where you throw all the ingredients into one bowl (even better since it is a processor bowl, in my case), knead everything into a smooth elastic dough and then let the yeast do its thing. Deflate the dough, roll it into a loaf, let it rise some more, bake and you have excellent bread; which worked very well for me as September has been a really busy month.
I was supposed to have posted this We Knead To Bake bread more than a week ago so that gives you an idea of how off-the-track I’ve been all month.
This bread makes excellent peanut butter sandwiches. Also try making French toast with it and you won’t regret it, I promise. You can also make savoury sandwiches with this Banana Bread or serve it on the side with curries or soup. While this Sandwich Bread is best the way it is (I think so anyways) you could experiment with one or two of the following mentioned ingredients that usually pair well with banana.
Fruit – Apricot, Blueberry, Cherry, Date, Fig, Guava, Kiwi, Kumquat, Lime, Mango, Orange, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Raspberry and Strawberry.
Spices – Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger and Tea.
Others – Caramel, Coconut, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut, Honey, Macadamia, Maple, Oatmeal, Pecan, Walnuts and White Chocolate.
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour).
Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread
- 3/4 to 1 cups lukewarm milk
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tbsp vital wheat gluten (optional)
- 25 gm butter , soft at room temperature
- 2 tsps instant yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 medium sized bananas chopped up (about 1 1/2 cups more or less)
- *If you can find bread flour, use that instead of all-purpose flour. Otherwise use vital wheat gluten with all-purpose flour for a more chewy textured bread. You can leave out the gluten if you don't have it and use just all-purpose flour as well.
- This measurement for bananas is not critical, though too much or too little banana will affect the softness of your dough and texture of your bread.
- Put all the ingredients except the milk, in a large bowl or the bowl of your machine. Add 3/4 cup of milk and knead until you have a shaggy dough. Add more milk if you think your dough needs it to get this consistency.
- Knead further by hand until you have a soft, smooth and elastic dough thatu2019s not sticky. Shape it into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl and let it rise for about 2 hours (mine took almost 3 hours) till about double in volume.
- Gently deflate the dough and shape the dough into a loaf that will fit into a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf tin. Loosely cover the loaf tin and let it rise for about an hour (again, mine took 1 1/2 hours)until it is rounded and almost at the edges of your loaf tin.
- Brush with a little milk and top with some oats if you like, otherwise leave it plain. Bake at 180F (350F) for about 40 to 50 minutes or till the bread is done, a nice brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped. Let it cool completely before slicing it.