Sunday, February 14, 2010

Strawberry, banana, and date bread

I somewhat invented this today by combining a couple of recipes. There is a picture at the bottom of the post.

The first recipe was a modified banana bread recipe that came from who-knows-where and that I've tweaked over the years, and the second one was the "Strawberry Bread" recipe from Lovina Eichner's "The Amish Cook's Baking Book".

The banana bread recipe I started with about 5 years ago used butter as the fat, called for white flour and a cup of sugar, and had nuts in it. It used yogurt as an acid which allowed for the use of baking soda alone.

The Amish recipe also called for nuts. I left the nuts out, as I always have with banana bread, because there's just so much calorie overload in pretty much any baking (flour, sugar, oil -- all are very high-calorie) that I don't think nuts carry their weight in breads like these.

In the banana bread, I had normally reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup, substituted 1/3 cup canola oil for the butter, and added a couple of handfuls of raisins to compensate for the reduced white sugar. I had also split the flour 50/50 between white and whole wheat.

I didn't like the idea of strawberries combined with raisins. But, dates seemed like they might go well.

I tried to take the best of each (inclusive of mixing methods) and add my own opinion.

Anyway, this is what I ended up with:
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/5 cup canola oil (i.e. roughly between 1/3 and 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 medium-sized overripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-7 dried dates
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (I am using Bob's Red Mill -- all are not created equal)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350F.

When the strawberries are in a semi-frozen state, chop them (they are easier to chop when partially frozen) into small chunks. Chop the dates, too. Set aside.

In (large) bowl #1: sift together flours, salt, baking powder, and baking soda

In (small) bowl #2, whisk the eggs until they're foamy on the surface

In (medium) bowl #3, chop and then mash the bananas with a fork. Add the eggs from bowl #2, and the oil, sugar, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Whisk together until well-blended.

Fold the contents of bowl #3 into the dry ingredients in bowl #1 with a spatula. Don't overmix -- just fold until the dry ingredients have been moistened.

Fold the chopped dates and strawberries into the batter. Again, don't overdo it -- just until they are roughly evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan (I normally use the residue from the canola oil measuring cup that by now is sitting in the bottom of the cup).

Put the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick pushed into the centre of the thickest point comes out clean. For me, this was 65 minutes.

Once done, put the loaf pan on a cooling rack and let it cool for about 5 minutes. This will make it easier to remove from the pan. Then, remove the loaf from the pan and cool on the cooling rack.

At this point, I normally drape aluminum foil over the loaf (reflective side down) with the thought that maybe it keeps some of the moisture in and cools more slowly, adding a bit of beneficial residual cooking. It's not a waste of foil because I use the same foil to wrap the loaf for freezing or the fridge.

Anyway, here is what it looked like (and it tasted very good -- especially if you like things that aren't too sweet). The strawberries and dates are strong flavours that go together well and fire at different speeds (as do the vanilla and almond extracts).