Thursday, March 13, 2014

Banana, Date, and Walnut Bread

We are in the process of preparing our 39 square metre abode for a fifth occupant (yes, you read that correctly) and yesterday, faced with the rather tedious prospect of another afternoon spent reorganizing our living room, I did the sensible, adult thing: I ignored the housework, and baked banana bread instead.

In my defense, two black bananas, squished into the side of our kitchen's produce basket, have been crying out for use since last week. They are the remnants of fried banana French toast, and although I intended to do something virtuous with them - say, slice them and eat them over oatmeal - the days inevitably passed, and the bananas, untouched, grew menacingly darker, until eventually I started averting my eyes when entering the kitchen.

Yesterday, however, spurred by near-desperate procrastination, I finally put those mushy fruits to the best use possible: banana bread. Donna Hay's recipe helpfully includes few other pantry items you may need to use up  - in my case, a bag of dates  -  and her addition of a maple frosting eradicated any conflicting notions I may have had regarding my afternoon's time management.

I made a few slight adjustments to the original recipe - namely, the addition of toasted walnuts, and the omission of an extra ¾ cup of flour. I will admit the flour was an accident (pregnancy brainlessness) and that I initially panicked when I realized my mistake. The resulting loaf, however, is perfectly moist and dense (the extra flour would produce a more "cakey" bread, I imagine) and when making this again, I'll stick with the reduced amount. Due to the bread's satisfying stodginess, however, I changed the cream cheese frosting to a lighter glaze. You could also forgo a topping altogether.

(slightly adapted from Donna Hay's recipe)

125g butter, softened
1 cup (175g) brown sugar

2 eggs
2 cups mashed banana
1 cup (140g) chopped dates
1 cup walnuts, chopped & toasted
1 cup (150g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1½ teaspoon baking powder, sifted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
⅓ cup (80ml) maple syrup

maple glaze:
250g mascarpone cheese, softened
½ cup (125ml) maple syrup
¼ tsp salt

1. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
2. Add the banana, dates, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
3. Add the maple syrup - stir well to combine and pour the mixture into a lightly greased & lined loaf tin.
4. Bake at 160 (325) degrees for about an hour and 10 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
5. Leave to cool.

In the meantime, mix the marscapone, maple syrup, and salt together with an electric mixture. When cake has cooled, remove from tin and pour the glaze over top.

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