Friday, 5 August 2011

Banana Brioche Bread

Very active starter and three manky bananas call for another go at Banana bread.
I nearly used up all of my storage starter, so I used the last of it to make up a big batch of starter, to save some as a stock in the fridge and to use some this week and test out another bread recipe. Due to all the warm weather we’ve been having in London, the process didn’t take long at all and by Wednesday morning I had enough starter to store away and to play with. This time I decided to play with a recipe for Banana bread.
I’ve made Banana Bread from Breadtopia website a number of times in the last few years. But I find the texture and the flour of it more cake-like rather then bread-like, and I was looking for something a bit more like a loaf of bread for my morning toast.
I saw a recipe for Banana bread on FreshLoaf website which looked amazing, but looked too complicated for me. However the blog did say that banana bread went really nice with peanut butter, and that was it, I couldn’t get that idea out of my mind – this is what I ended up with …

Banana Bread

50g milk
130g water
125g white starter (100% hydration)
3 (270g) small very ripe bananas, mashed
25g honey
440g white flour
200g whole meal flour
40g unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ tsp salt

Place all liquids (milk, water), starter, bananas, flours and honey in a mixer and mix for 6 minutes on speed 1. Cover with a towel and leave to autolise for 20 minutes. Add salt and turn mixer on speed 2, mix for 4 minutes, slowly adding softened butter, making sure that each bit is well incorporated before adding another one. The dough will be really soft and tacky, but mix it until you the dough starts coming as a ball around the dough hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl – you’ll be able to see lovely dough strands forming and pulling in the mixer.
Oil a bowl with sunflower oil or butter, transfer the dough from the mixer into the bowl and leave to rest at room temperature for an hour and a half, doing stretch and fold every 3- minute. The dough is very very soft, don’t be tempted to add more flour, it will come together at the end, trust me.
After the last stretch and fold leave the dough at room temperature for about five to six hours, until it doubles in size. I actually ended up with lots more dough that I could fit into a single banneton, so I’ve decided to try something I don’t do very often – bake my loaves in bread tins.
The dough was still quite soft and tacky, so I thought I might need a bit of flour on the kitchen counter to help me shape the dough, otherwise its just not going to work. I’ve divided the dough in two – 1/3 and 2/3 to make one small and one large loaf. Shape each piece into a log (as much as you are able to shape it), just try to get a bit of surface tension, don’t worry about making it look pretty or anything. Place the shaped loaves into two bread tins, lined with baking parchment – I used one medium size tin and one large one. Cover the tins with plastic (good old shower caps) and leave to rise at room temperature. Again, because its so warm, it only took three hours for the loaves to rise well above sides of the tins, doming over and threatening to go over the sides. Before too late, I chucked the loaves into a hot oven (preheated to 200C), didn’t even bother with slashing, as I didn’t want to risk deflating them. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating once half way through. After first 20 minutes the loaves looked nice and golden and I was tempted to take them out already, but I decided to let them bake to the end. After full 40 minutes the tops were dark brown rather than golden, but the sides of the loaves were lovely and crisp, deep golden colour.
I left the loaves to cool overnight, no matter how tempted I was to cut a slice off and try it right there and then.
I had two slices of it for breakfast this morning, yes, with peanut butter, as I pictured it in my head. And it was just as good as I imagined – I had to call Mr Ranty just to tell him how good it was and that he should definitely try that for breakfast.

The banana flavour is not particularly strong at the moment, but I think it might develop over the next couple of days – that is if I am going to have any left still :)
The texture is very much brioche like, which is quite surprising, considering that last time I’ve made a version of this recipe, it had standard bread-like crumb.
I’ve been experiencing with a few enriched breads lately, and I think I am going to leave this one as it is now, I am very happy with this version.

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